N.E.R.D. Doesn't Lack Creative Ambition, but Falls Short of Its Own High Bar with Nothing

Artist: N.E.R.D.

Album: Nothing

Label: Star Trak / Interscope

Release date: November 2 (Today)

Rating (Skip, Stream, or Buy): Stream

Download: "Hypnotize U" (Prod. Daft Punk)

At it's best, N.E.R.D. was a lofty fusion of hip-hop, rock, pop and electro that played no small part in directing young rap fans away from gun claps and toward skinny jeans and guitars. And for years, Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo's production duo The Neptunes created smash singles allowing them to push musical boundaries on the side as N.E.R.D. with the help of Shay Haley. But at this point in the game, after three charting records, the question becomes "How much more can they do?" The answer, of course, is a lot--drifting away from rock toward more pure pop is a good fit--but with a standard set so high, their innovation seemingly dwarfs itself. The driving bass of lead singles "Hot-n-Fun" with Nelly Furtado and "Hypnotize U" produced by electro-gods Daft Punk give them the potential to be body-movers, even if they may not have become club anthems. If the record can be pinned down as just one thing, it's an embrace of N.E.R.D.'s party tendencies.

Also, a final PSA: if you don't have tickets to see them open for Gorillaz tonight, hustle down to Easy Street Records for an in-store appearance at 4 p.m.

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