They got soul,
This review is from: Nothing (Audio CD)
Nothing represents a step forward for N*E*R*D, replacing the usual guitars and rock with vintage funk and soul. It's a slightly more impressive album than 2008's Seeing Sounds, which coincides with Chad Hugo's return to songwriting duties alongside fellow Neptune, Pharrell Williams. Despite the entire album being made on digital audio workstations, a number of tracks seem to be heavily influenced by the eras of psychedelic rock and MOR; with its use of glockenspiel, layered harmonies and lyrics about rain, "Inside of Clouds" sounds like a cut from The Beach Boys circa Smiley Smile. "Help Me" is similar to the Doors' "Queen of the Highway", but adopts a waltz-time groove. Best of all is the two-step conga of "Perfect Defect", whose chorus contains chords that come right out of Hall and Oates' "I Can't Go For That".
In an interview, Williams had cited the conflict that surrounded the album - the band's concern for Nothing's authentic vibe clashed with Interscope's demand for more club-orientated hits. As a result, the album's release was repeatedly delayed, and it comes in two forms; the deluxe edition includes another four tracks, including the terrific synth parps and bass in "The Man". Moreover, the album's "authentic vibe" is slightly scewed; the electro-soul of the Daft Punk-produced "Hypnotize U" precedes the highly political "Help Me". It doesn't always work; the Brian Wilson-esque "Life As a Fish" is followed by "Nothing on You", which sounds too much like a lost Neptunes B-side. Although the production and mix is more consistent than Seeing Sounds, one wonders why the highly-skilled Williams and Hugo didn't use real instruments (bar the odd trumpet and saxophone) in attempting to re-create the fuzzy guitars, propulsive drums and flourish of a Fender rhodes of the late 60s psych-groove. Tame Impala's Innerspeaker - one of the best albums of 2010 - finds great success in this. Overall though, Nothing is a melodic and catchy record, and one which will no doubt be overlooked by the masses and keep N*E*R*D in the domain of underground music.
LISTEN TO: I've Seen the Light/Inside of Clouds ; The Man ; Party People ; God Bless Us All