Nothing by N.E.R.D.
The era of The Neptunes is over. For most of the '00s all you had to do was turn on the radio to hear that distinctive sound of super-producers Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo: hard robotic beats, spare-sounding synths, and nothing else. But now if you want to hear The Neptunes you have to delve into the album tracks of the pop stars they used to produce hit singles for. Mainstream pop music has moved away from The Neptunes sound and now on Nothing, the new album of their flagship project N.E.R.D, it seems they're moving away from it too.
The Neptunes changed pop music by stripping it down, but now they're adding back on the layers. Everything's denser and more textured, with the more spaced out elements of their music taking over and almost nearing acid house territory (stand-out track "Hypnotize You," produced by Daft Punk, offers a better example of the sound they're trying to achieve than they manage on their own). It's all very pleasant and relaxed, but the aggressive energy of a song like "Lapdance" or "Rock Star" is missing. These songs don't ever reach a level beyond chilled out. There's a fine line between relaxed and lazy, and laziness is Nothing's biggest problem.
When In Search Of... was released, Williams and Hugo had something to prove -- successful producers trying to show they could make it on their own as solo artists. Having created a sound that dominated pop music for a decade, they've nothing left to prove, and it shows. Nothing sounds like an album made by millionaires. Their new sound lacks the edge of their previous work, and when they try and return to the party music they're famous for you can tell their hearts just aren't in it. Lead single "Hot N Fun" is probably the laziest single The Neptunes have ever attached their name to, and considering they wrote "Hollaback Girl," that's quite a statement. They can knock out 20 songs like that in their sleep, and the fact that they're doing it on a N.E.R.D album, traditionally where they saved their best tunes, speaks to a serious failure of ideas.
Pharell's lyrics also need to be addressed. They're ridiculous. Granted, this is nothing new, and chastizing Pharell for writing ridiculous lyrics is like telling him to put on a shirt occasionally: he's not gonna listen, so why bother. But he really reaches a new level here, if he'd already become a parody of himself he's now a parody of that parody. The line in "She Wants to Move" about your ass being a spaceship wouldn't even raise an eyebrow among the clangers that litter this album.
Nothing ends up a weird mix, a band caught between reaching for a new sound and mindlessly coasting on half-hearted retreads of what they've done in the past. It's not a bad album by any means, and they should be admired for trying (albeit timidly) something different, but the different thing they've tried simply isn't as good as what they used to do. I suspect these guys don't have another classic in them, but if this is the start of their decline it can still be appreciated for the decent album it is, before the real rot sets in.
Danielle Panabaker's Top Pop Picks
"I'm really into the Avett Brothers as of late."
"My girlfriends are I - we are very nerdy. We started a book club and the first book we read was Gone Girl."
"I thought it was a great film and I thought Jennifer Lawrence was incredible, you know those angry tears, I've certainly experienced that."
Most Popular Videos
- Jane Lynch And Craig Robinson Video Interview On 'Escape From Planet Earth'
- Adrien Brody Video Interview On Judging The Bombay Sapphire Imagination Film Series, Playing Houdini
- George Lopez Video Interview On 'Escape From Planet Earth'
- Thandie Newton Video Interview On 'Rogue,' Learning To Shoot A Gun
- Kevin Smith Video Interview On His New Book, 'Tough Sh*t,' Mitt Romeny, Bruce Willis
Top Comedy Videos
Sex & Sci-Fi: Summer's Hottest Movies & Men - Your Tango
- Celebrity Sex Talk: 6 Craziest Things Heard This Week - Your Tango
- ‘Spring Breakers’ Review: The 10 Most Depraved, Parent-Shocking Moments - MovieFone
- 10 Hot Hollywood Husbands Changing The World - Your Tango
- Taylor Swift Cozying Up With Harry Styles - PlanetFashionTV