End­ing happy

With N.E.R.D’s fifth al­bum, Phar­rell Wil­liams and gang are tak­ing a sterner turn

Esquire (UK) - - Culture -

Hey, party peo­ple in the place to be! N.E.R.D have a new al­bum packed with guests (Ri­hanna, Ed Sheeran, Ken­drick La­mar) and we all know what to ex­pect, right? Good vibes, fun times, juicy tunes… Ex­cept, uh-uh. Not this time. No_One Ever

Re­ally Dies from Phar­rell Wil­liams, Chad Hugo and Shay Ha­ley is not a laugh-riot. In fact, a riot might be closer to the fact, al­beit a tightly rhythmed, metic­u­lously pro­duced one. “Don’t Don’t Do It” fea­tures La­mar and is an in­flamed re­sponse to po­lice bru­tal­ity to­wards African-Amer­i­cans; “Deep Down Body Thrust” sounds sexy and a bit like Crys­tal Wa­ters’ “Gypsy Woman”, but ac­tu­ally takes on evil con­sumerism; while “Kites”, with MIA and La­mar, takes the per­spec­tive of a refugee boy in Calais. It’s not an easy lis­ten — beats are fran­tic, wil­fully dis­jointed songs change half­way through, dif­fi­cult tunes shun easy melody. It’s not the al­bum you were ex­pect­ing, but it’s more ar­rest­ing for it.

— No_One Ever Re­ally Dies (RCA) by N.E.R.D is out on 15 De­cem­ber

N.E.R.D up: Chad Hugo, Shay Ha­ley and Phar­rell Wil­liams re­turn af­ter seven years

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