Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo to tour the UK: can they cure my N*E*R*D-ish disappointment?

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News has been announced today that R&B/soul/funk/rock/alternative/whatever supergroup N*E*R*D are due to hit the motorway in August, with three dates in the UK announced so far. The question on my mind is – will Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo’s live show compensate for a disappointing album track record?
Look, I’m a big fan of N*E*R*D – or, more accurately, The Neptunes. And, if you took the best tracks from their albums, you would have one killer playlist – “Rock Star”, “Truth Or Dare”, “Lapdance”, “She Wants To Move” and “Everyone Nose” show the breadth of styles and moods these phenomenally talented musicians can work with.
But… it’s not really enough, is it?

Given the chart domination Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo achieved as uber-producers The Neptunes, it was assumed by most folk that their studio virtuosity would transfer pretty easily to their output as the genre-straddling N*E*R*D.
Now, don’t misunderstand me – I get that the N*E*R*D project is intended to be somewhat experimental, and not necessarily tailored for number one singles. But does stylistic experimentation have to be at the expense of killer melodies? Latest album Seeing Sounds might be marginally better than predecessor Fly Or Die, but it still left me feeling disappointed.
Perhaps the artists The Neptunes worked with brought their own tunes, and Pharrell and Chad’s input was purely to add the magnificent bells and whistles that made the tracks stand out.
Or maybe, in an attempt to do an “urban Radiohead”, N*E*R*D are more concerned with the texture of their albums, and the message they’re trying to put across. I’d rather not entertain the possibility that the fame and money has blunted their edge, although it has to be considered when one of the pair spends time making glorified ads for Converse (see video below) and sporting an 18-carat gold Blackberry.
Either way, as a genuine fan of their output I can’t help but feel let down that the band’s output hasn’t delivered on its potential. But then when you’ve made it to the top, there’s really only one way to go, isn’t there? Fly or die indeed…
Santogold, Julian Casablancas, N*E*R*D – My Drive Thru
Produced By Pharrell – Santogold, Julian Casablancas, N.E.R.D.

[video: MyDriveThru]

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