N*E*R*D – Nothing | Album Review

Pharrell et al put on the N*E*R*D mask once again and bring us their Hip Hop Rock brand of music in the new album Nothing. Generally, the album gives us what we expect from the NERDs, bottom heavy drum knocking Hip Hop type pop-rock.

The lads have obviously been listening to a lot of Quincy Jones because the pumping horns on tracks like ‘Party People’ and ‘Perfect Defect’ are very well produced. What I love is that NERD display a distinct difference between their sound and the Neptunes sound, however there is something that strings them both together.

The album is full of very nice, although at times, very similar basslines [the drum production is grand – although that’s a given] and lacks features, except for T.I.’s short and sweet appearance on ‘Party People’ and somewhere in the chorus of ‘It’s In The Air’ there is Swizz Beatz and that ridiculous delay he always puts on his voice.

On paper ‘Hypnotize U,’ featuring production by Daft Punk, sounds like a great collaboration and when it initially showed up on my feed I expected to be blown away. I wasn’t – and I expected more. Tracks like ‘The Man,’ ‘Sacred Temple’ and ‘It’s In The Air’ sound a little dishevelled and I couldn’t quite get into them first time round. ‘I Wanna Jam,’ ‘Nothing On You’ and ‘Help Me’ have all the hallmarks of a typical NERD song, the latter reminding of some of their earlier work.

Exploration is more evident on this album than any other. ‘Perfect Defect’ at times sounds a little Curtis Mayfield, ‘I Wanna Jam’ is Rolling Stones and ‘I’ve Seen The Light (Inside Of The Clouds) is Bowie inspired, complete with segue into a floaty, dreamy section. ‘Life As A Fish’ is an extension of their exploration, both sonically and thematically.

‘Hot-n-Fun’ featuring Nelly Furtado is my favourite track on the album; funky, uptempo and driving in its nature, with that typical NERD sound really coming together in a pop format accessible by the masses. Aalthough the bassline does remind me of the riff they used for ‘Superthug’…]

My future favourite has to be ‘Victory.’ I give it two more plays and this Beatles-esque track will have overtaken ‘Hot-n-Fun.’ Screaming Beatles to you through it’s chord progression alone, it’s just slightly more polished and in your face. All in all, NERD gave us all something old and something new in more ways than one.