For nearly twenty years, Pharrell Williams has been a powerhouse of hip-hop and pop production. Always managing to keep a cool yet commercial sound within his work has made him one of the most recognisable names in the world. But for more than the first half of his legacy, his band N.E.R.D. acted as his own personal output, creating new ideas without the pressure of massive returns afterwards. And with seven years passed since their last release, the trio have returned with their fifth studio album 'No_One Ever Really Dies'.
But the trouble with creating a band purely to indulge your own less-than-conventional ideas does create a direction that not many are keen to follow. However, this latest full-length seems to balance that creative streak perfectly, adopting weird beats and quick-fire rhythm changes throughout. And while their collaborations with Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar on the singles 'Lemon' and 'Don't Don't Do It' respectively remain the highlights of this release, their are still many brilliant moments scattered amongst the weirdness.
'No_One Ever Really Dies' does stand out in the group's catalogue as probably the most easy-listening of the five LPs. Taking a more soulful direction this time, much of the release seems to adopt this lucid dreamlike event, punctured with moments of hard flair and excellent guest contributors.