N.E.R.D.'s third album is the compact-disc equivalent of an ad campaign trying to appeal to the Red Bull/BlackBerry generation. "We gotta make it passionate," you can almost hear Pharrell telling the guys in the studio. "And retro! And political! You know, some really fucked-up crazy awesome nuts shit!" And so we get a song to bash Bush by ("Time for Some Action"), a track to snort coke off supermodels by ("Everybody Nose") and a "thoughtful" Beatles-esque ballad ("Sooner or Later") to impress the left-wing Victoria's Secret babe on the ride home. The group's moniker has never been more appropriate: Seeing Sounds is all technique, no soul. Every sampler-tweaked and computer-manipulated moment feels micro-managed. Turns out human emotion cannot be created with Pro Tools.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.