After adding and dropping a female member, the original trio of Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley release N*E*R*D*’s fourth record, Nothing. It is the Virgina-based group’s most poppy release to date, with tracks like the Nelly Furtado-assisted, “Hot-n-Fun” and the album opener, “Party People,” which features a rapid fire flow from the recently incarcerated T.I.
Nothing is filled with phenomenal production that one would expect from a N*E*R*D* project, but the lyrics and vocal performances often let the tracks down. “Perfect Defect” has a stellar rolling bass line, but is ruined by a repetitious and corny melody. Thanks to the production, each track has something positive to offer to the listener, but the lack of content really hurts the album’s replay value.
There are few low points on the album, but there are only a couple of stand out tracks as well. “I’ve Seen the Light / Inside of Clouds” features Pharrell’s best vocal performance. And the horn heavy, “God Bless Us All” has a neck-snapping beat, which begs to have a Jay-Z verse on it.
While Nothing isn’t N*E*R*D*’s strongest effort, it does offer an interesting take on pop music. Most of today’s pop music consists of lazy synth loops, heavy 808 kick drums, and paper-thin hand claps. N*E*R*D* orchestrated a lush soundscape that musically, trumps just about any other pop act on the Billboard Hot 100.