Album Review

N.E.R.D., 'Nothing'

November 1, 2010

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The side project of superstar producers the Neptunes makes a stark departure from its hot mess of grinding funk-rock on this often disappointing mixed bag. On “Nothing,’’ the trio, featuring Pharrell, moves toward a more horn-laced R&B vein. While mostly exploring soul here, the band also nods to pop and adds in hints of its old style. The record, the group’s fourth, was delayed multiple times; many of these tracks end up sounding fussy and lacking in the immediacy of N.E.R.D.’s best work. There are some outstanding songs including “Hypnotize U,’’ with an eerie, seductive production by Daft Punk, and Pharrell doing his best to channel Prince’s falsetto (of course, coming up short). “Party People,’’ is a party starter and, while “I Wanna Jam’’ is obvious, it does indeed have some jump. A few tracks are throwaways, especially the empty “Nothing on You’’ and “Victory.’’ The boys appear to have found God, as many songs (“Perfect Defect,’’ “I’ve Seen the Light/Inside of Clouds,’’) compare a woman to divine revelation. This is most apparent on “Sacred Temple,’’ probably the best track with its deep bass line and collision of funk and gospel. Surprisingly, though, “Nothing’’ simply lacks a coherent musical vision. (Out tomorrow)


ESSENTIAL “Hypnotize U’’