x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Seeing Sounds - N*E*R*D (Universal)

A brave attempt, but after opener and lead single Everybody Nose, the record dramatically loses pace and reason to be.

A bit like Batman, N*E*R*D also have very respectable day jobs. As superproducers The Neptunes, they helped reinvent the sounds of hip hop and have since received extraordinary sums to polish-up tracks by Madonna, Jay-Z and everyone else in between. But their respectability could only endure so long, before a unique brand of justice was to be unleashed. In 2001, when they began moonlighting as N*E*R*D, the troupe set about trying to transform music altogether.Captained by Pharrell Williams, they promised all the best bits of rock, electronica, hip hop and soul. And for a while it worked. Their debut In Search Of... and 2005's Fly or Die were never short of hooks, harmonies or left-field lyrics. At first Seeing Sounds seems every-bit like a N*E*R*D. record. But after opener and single Everybody Nose, the record dramatically loses any pace or reason to be. Spaz is a welcome highlight at the album's mid-way point, but there is little reason to listen any further. The title Seeing Sounds is an ode to neurological disorder synesthesia, which causes sufferers to vividly 'see' sounds as colours. Williams intention was to create music that could be envisaged by the listener like a live show. A brave idea, but it doesn't make the songs any better.