N.E.R.D. are the beat missiles of the entire music scene for many reasons. But the most functional of all these reasons? It isn’t their style, their confidence, who they know. It’s the fact that all three of them have the most intuition into the beauty that is beats because all three of them know drums like they’ve grown up eating rhythm with drum sticks. The simple yet ingenious toms we saw on “She Wants To Move” all them years ago. The focussed snare rolls we saw on “Maybe”. They’re not the result of guidelines. They’re pure intuition.
And their new album reveals why. “Seeing Sounds” reveals how pure this intuition is. Studio time with N.E.R.D. in my mind goes something like this. Percussion. Lyrics. Percussion. Melodies. Percussion. Not to say the lyrics or melodies are lacking in attention. The percussion is just so layered, it literally throws an entire drum kit at every listener before the catchy melodies even kick in. “Everyone Nose” the first single to come out the album is a beautifully crafted jump start tune. It comprises layer upon layer of bass, snares, ride cymbals, clicks and hi hats.
N.E.R.D. are the music equivalent of Shakespeare. Their ironic lyrics, ‘catch me if you can’ melodies and timeless beats will no doubt be analysed and respected in a confused and timeless submission. While we can never fully know what Shakespeare meant, who he was talking about and what the purpose of each of his pieces were. The same applies for N.E.R.D. We don’t fully understand. But we like it. We like it a lot. And we can never quite get enough.
Some of the lyrics seem thinly layered and meaningless but it’s obvious that they’re way more complex than that. You spend forever trying to work out what it is they’re telling you. With “Everybody Nose” – ‘all the girls standing in the line for the bathroom’ means they want us to know it’s a track about zooting. But after that? We could debate forever. “Happy” is an optimistic track which follows the whole “Time For Some Action”, forward thinking attitude of the disc.
“Kill Joy” exhibits Pharrell’s classic mike breaths in quirky inventive fashion. The hi hat chokes and dampened bass drums together with the assorted clicks and energetic vocals keep you entertained throughout. They lose this attention grabbing quality on some of the slower ballads. N.E.R.D. and ballads can work, “Maybe” was an instant hit. But the “Laser Gun”, funky yet laid back style on this album works better than the almost one toned “Yeah You” and “Love Bomb”. You need to be in the right mood and listen to these tracks repeatedly to really get something from them.
If “Anti Matter” was a guy. He’d be the hottest guy in the club. “Spaz” is an anthem for all the talented, underappreciated youth out there. N.E.R.D. began their career like any eager artists. Slipping their slick asses into clubs and strolling confidently up to the likes of Kanye West to forcefully introduce themselves. “Spaz” could just mean – dance like no one’s here. But it could also mean. Do whatever the hell you want. And to all the haters? Cuss me if you want. Rant about me as much as you want. Go on, let it out. “I’m right here. And I ain’t going nowhere”.
If I can pinpoint one reason Nobody Ever Really Dies created Seeing Sounds for, it was to remind us that the internal visualisation of real art reflects how strange it is to be alive at all.
01. Time For Some Action
02. Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)
04. Anti Matter
06. Yeah You
07. Sooner or Later
09. Kill Joy
10. Love Bomb
11. You Know What
12. Laugh About It