Sound — 10
Pharrell Williams. Not particularly a name many would associate with rock. However, his funk-rock band N.E.R.D. (No One Ever Really Dies) has innovated music across several genres. The band began as the very successful, distinctive hip-hop production group The Neptunes, and now have 3 albums on the market, with Seeing Sounds as the most recent. The album title refers to the neurolgical phenomenon synesthesia, which allows one to associate certain noises with colors or shapes, and ultimately see sounds. The album as a whole is pretty diverse, which is very satisfying, and the styles used vary from track to track, but even more so from half to half.
Lyrics — 7
N.E.R.D./Pharrell have always used fairly straightforward lyrics, and this time it's no different. Unfortunately, a few songs have excellent beats, great verses, then lackluster, corny hooks that really make the song seem unoriginal, despite its high points. "Happy" is a perfect example; great production, good verse, then the downer of a hook, "Now I'm happy/things are looking good now/I feel so alive/I'm on overdrive". To me it feels, uninspired, and very cliche. However, there are contrasting points as well. The majority of the choruses are one line, repeated throughout, like in "Everone Nose", and "Anti-Matter". I've never been a fan of that style, but it really works here. A highlight for me as far as lyrics go is in "Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)", a song about the re-emergance of cocaine as Hollywood's go-to drug. Just before the chorus, Pharrell sings "A hundred dollar bills look at you, at you", where the "at you" part is sung as "achoo", referencing the sneezing result of cocaine. It's a simple, yet memorable lyric, and on this album they don't come by too often.
Overall Impression — 9
Being a fan of N.E.R.D.'s work prior to listening to this album, I knew what to expect; amazing production, some fast paced rock tracks, some ballad-like songs, and a mix of rapping and singing. And it's all there. My personal favorite songs are "Everyone Nose", "Anti-Matter", "Spaz" (known as the song from the Zune commercial), and "Kill Joy". The album is fantastic and will please new listeners as well as fans. It's only low point is the lyrics which can be dull and cliche at times, but the marvelous production and musicianship make up for it. The only song I really ever skip over it "Love Bomb". It isn't a bad song, but something about it is just unappealing. For new listeners and fans alike, embrace N.E.R.D. and hope they stick around for a very long time, because their originality and talent is something you will rarely see.