Bargain-Bin Material

Seeing Sounds (Interscope Records)
N.E.R.D.

By Kory Wilcoxson

The one word that comes to mind when describing N.E.R.D.'s third album may be the most scathing criticism possible for a hip-hop album: unremarkable. In other words, despite the earnest efforts of Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley, there's nothing here that makes the listener sit up and take notice.

This latest CD confirms what the first two hinted at: Williams and Hugo (aka the mega-producers The Neptunes) are much better behind the boards than behind the mics. The beats they create for "Everyone Nose" and "Windows" far outshine the lyrics, and the vocals of the sultry "Sooner or Later" don't give the song the soulful depth it deserves. You have to wonder what could have been if someone with some serious chops had taken a crack at the material.

Seeing Sounds isn't lacking for musical innovation, a trademark of Williams and company. What it is lacking is the star power needed to deliver the goods. Don't rush out and get this one; Seeing Sounds should be coming soon to a used CD store near you.

Find out more at n-e-r-d.com.