Review: N*E*R*D

“In Search Of…”
(Virgin Records)

Producers Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, known to the world as The Neptunes, have invited their buddy Shay to team with them as N*E*R*D and go “In Search Of…” something (perhaps a favorable review from XXL, who panned the first version of this album so hard that The Neptunes took it back for retooling?).  All kidding aside, much respect to Hugo and Williams for persevering with an experimental project like “In Search Of…”  After all, how easy would it have been for them to have stuck to what they know and made a (guaranteed platinum) club-ready hip-hop album featuring all the famous artists they’ve produced tracks for?  Instead, N*E*R*D comes with the creatively daring “In Search Of…,” which draws on a variety of musical influences and only includes a few tracks that could be readily classified as hip-hop.  It’s hard to find fault with the sound of this album, which is occasionally mind-blowing, but it’s all too easy to hack away at the songwriting, which is occasionally fair (“Provider,” “Bobby James”), but more often than not is just terrible (“Brain,” “Tape You,” “Run to the Sun”), not to mention endlessly fixated on sex and drugs.  The results of the N*E*R*D experiment are decidedly mixed, but definitely interesting.