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The musings of a teenage audiophile. Indie, Rock, Hip-Hop, Rap, Dance, Dubstep, Garage, Metal... music crosses all boundaries. The Cold Cut is devoted to giving you a taste of what's going on in music at the moment.

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A 17 year old taking his first tentative steps into the world of blogging. In my first year, its been up and down, from the slow first months to a busy time around the one year anniversary.

N.E.R.D.- 'Seeing Sounds' Review


8/10

N.E.R.D.- Anti Matter (Link 2)
NERD- Spaz (Link 2)
NERD- You Know What (Link 2)

N.E.R.D.'s 'Seeing Sounds' is surprisingly simple to review. In short, this is an album that almost (it's annoyingly close) realises their potential. That being said, their potential is a modern classic, so the results are still brilliant.

If we are honest with each other, N.E.R.D. have never equaled the sum of their parts. The Neptunes (also known as Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) are held in high esteem, and thought to be some of the most influential producers of the modern age. And yet, whilst their studio work fizzles and cracks with creative thought, Pharrell and Chad (joined by Shay Haley) as N.E.R.D. can't quite seem to keep their own boat fully afloat. Until now... whilst previous output has been fairly pedestrian- limited to a few choice singles with some passable filler- 'Seeing Sounds' is the best of the bunch, by a long, long way.

Lead single 'Everybody Nose' was a good choice, although the content (girl's lining up bathrooms/coke) would have made more of an impact if the meaning was instantly clearer to the average Joe. The video is the missing link, with some rough looking girls wiping their noses, whilst N.E.R.D. move around with energy. Could it be any clearer? 'Spaz' is the album stand-out. Williams' lyrics are direct, for a change, and actually mean something, accompanied by a catchy chorus. A promising prospect, and this song is not alone on the album, where Williams puts his updated lyrical tilt to good use- all his time with CRS has been seriously beneficial, and it's obvious that copious notes have been taken from Lupe and Mr. West. Therein lies the key to NERD progressing further.

The music itself is largely flawless, and given the comprehensive 'Glow In The Dark Tour', I'm sure they will be able to reproduce it live, note for note (any comments on that tour would be appreciated). In terms of beats and backing, 'Seeing Sounds' is privy to the best production of the year, with numerous breakdowns, some experimental instrumental sections and original beats and samples. Pharrell struggles with his vocals (which should have been left to Shay), with songs such as 'Happy' forcing him to overuse his falsetto. If N.E.R.D. have a weakness, Williams' vocals are it. They are lucky that they can overcome this small issue using familiarity as a distraction.

I find it hard to criticise N.E.R.D. for their previous habit of treating albums as a selection of separate songs, as that is essentially what The Neptunes are paid to do. Thankfully, this little quibble has been solved. 'Seeing Sounds' fits together nicely, with a handful of songs linking seamlessly into each other. That must be down to the concept behind the album title: 'synesthesia', or a neurological phenomenom where sounds are seen as colours. It's a bright move, but I honestly can't see how this ties into most of the songs (besides a few vocal cues: " Close your eyes see colorful things you wanna"), most pointedly 'Anti Matter'. I'm willing to give a little, though, when such a diverse song is involved (samples, heavy bass, rap, synths, a breakdown)- what more could you really want?

The experimental aspects are pushed even further forward. Pharrell quite clearly doesn't give a shit about the journos opinion, and I respect him for that. Unfortunately, this has backfired on N.E.R.D., as none of the songs on this album are instant. 'Seeing Sounds' needs to be slowly digested, and the short time frame allotted to most music journalists has most likely made them unable to appreciate this album's (and its predecessors') intricacies. More than any other album of the last few years, 'Seeing Sounds' grows and grows- certainly, I really wasn't impressed when I first heard it, but I'm considering revisiting their earlier output to look for similar tell-tale signs of a missed opportunity. I sincerely suggest you follow my lead.

'Seeing Sounds' can be purchased on Amazon.

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    This is a harsh review, Seeing sounds is JUST the type of album real music lovers want.
    It's down to earth, it makes you think, it makes you move, it keeps you happy but makes you mad at the same time, and best of all it's not made up of one hit followed by 7 shit songs. It's got everything from the mosh tracks to soulful ballads.
    Like I said before it's an album that makes you think, it takes a while for you to decipher what they mean in certain songs like antimatter but when you do, it's so accomplishing and it adds so much more value to the song. Nobody cares about Pharrell's voice, we like the fact that he's real with it. He actually tries instead of using autotune to fix his vocal issues.
    N.E.R.D. LOVE the music not the radio airtime, not the sales revenue; the MUSIC. And they know there are people out there who do also.
    Simply put, seeing sounds wasn't made for you or mainstream listeners. That's the main reason why you don't really like it.
    It was made for those who actually like music that's more than a good beat and catchy tune as an alternative to the shit we have to listen to on the radio. This album is like a fuckin subway in a town run by mcDonalds and burger king.

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    @Anonymous said...
    9 May 2010 19:05

    This is a harsh review,..

    You, sir, just put everything I thought after reading this review and moulded in into a comprehensive comment/mini-review. Thanks (:

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