N*E*R*D Returns from a 7-year Hiatus with new Self-Titled Album!
Since the age of 13, N*E*R*D has been a part of my life, providing content that matched my experiences as a nerd. Anchored by 2000’s super producing duo The Neptunes, N*E*R*D was a sharp exit from the duo’s pop hits. Creating a unique blend of hip-hop, alternative rock, and electronic music. However, their latest release diverts from this uniqueness that was present in at least three of their four previous albums.
What separates No One Ever Really Dies from its predecessors is its absence of the dynamic between the trio. While on the surface the album sounds like a N*E*R*D album, deep down it is not. Instead the album feels like bandleader Pharrell Williams third solo outing with his bandmates Chad and Shay showing up to make him feel like a band.
Despite this, the two tracks that sound anything remotely like a N*E*R*D song are the tracks “Deep Down Body Thurst” and “Don’t Don’t Do It!” featuring Kendrick Lamar — both being the only tracks to feature production by Chad. Shay, on the other hand, is completely absent.
The album does stay true to one thing: their innovative use of defying genre. However, this has been a gift and a curse for the trio. At times their work could border the lines of ingenuity and noise. Case in point the album’s lead single, “Lemon” featuring Rihanna. It is a bouncy, forward-moving dance track. Equipped with slick rhymes and dope delivery, the track itself can set a precedent for the future of hip-hop.
However, tracks like the Future-assisted “1000” and “Voilà” featuring Gucci and Wale come off as distorted. I did not enjoy listening to them because N*E*R*D had much better rap features in the past. Deep cuts like” Am I High” with No Malice from In Search of… and “Party People” featuring T.I. from Nothing both matched the band and the respective rappers featured. In fact, aside from a few hits, most of the features on the album feel like misses.
However, the lyrical content featured here is quite political despite the distortion I’ve stated about the previous tracks.
The album is not all doom and gloom, however. Songs like “Lightning Fire Magic Prayer” are thoroughly enjoyable. And if you’re a casual fan of the band you won’t notice that it’s only the work of Pharrell.
All in all, give or take a few tracks the album, this isn’t their best but it is worth a few listens. You can stream the full album below.