The title of the new N.E.R.D. album refers to synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense causes a synthetic perception in another sense, i.e., experiencing sounds as colors or images.
Whatevs. It's summertime! I want music that provides a soundtrack for the oppressively hot days and nights when everyone is feeling a bit crazy and restless and sexed up.
N.E.R.D. mostly delivers, erring only when they stray from their forte: high-energy dance songs with killer beats. "Sooner or Later" starts off as a '60s-ish soul tune in the spirit of the Five Stairsteps' "Ooh Child," but devolves into an odd, Prince-esque guitar freak-out session that ruins the wistful mood. "Love Bomb" is a mess, with lyrics that could have been lifted from a politically aware 13-year-old's spiral notebook. Both songs call unflattering attention to Pharrell Williams' less than stellar vocals.
What N.E.R.D. does have in spades is charisma, the aforementioned amazing beats and great instincts for how to get the club hopping. The best tracks on Seeing Sounds are party anthems like "Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in the Line for the Bathroom)," a jazzy, frenetic ode to the cocaine-addled, sweat-drenched girls at the club; the harder-edged "Spaz," an excellent account about losing your shit; the super funky "You Know What," concerning a "friend with benefits" situation; and the punk-flavored "Kill Joy." Another standout is the hilarious and infectious "Windows," the best song about voyeurism since the Police's "Every Breath You Take."
Drugs, rock and illicit sexual activity? Sounds like summer to me.