Album review

N*E*R*D : Fly Or Die
Virgin Records

N*E*R*D : Fly Or DieN*E*R*D's debut In Search Of . . . sunk without trace until it was re-recorded and relaunced off the back of the skate-friendly video for Rock Star, and the immense dance floor-friendly remix of said tune by Jason Nevins. The revamped In Search Of . . . was a mash-up of silky R&B and nu-metal drums and guitar - certainly a different spin on the rap-rock hybrid, and in places very good indeed.

Fly Or Die keeps the live instrumentation of In Search Of . . ., but this time the session guys are replaced by N*E*R*D themselves, which gives the disc an often primitive feel, despite typically expansive production; production credited to The Neptunes of course, who make up two thirds of the N*E*R*D line-up.
    One of the consequences of this change in personnel is that the wilful clatter of In Search Of . . .'s noisier moments has disappeared, and been replaced by what can only be described as simplistic funk rock. In fact, large portions of Fly Or Die bring to mind 90s pioneers 24-7 Spyz, but it's a sound that hasn't aged well, and holds up poorly in comparison with this album's better moments.
    Better moments? Yeah, there's actually some good stuff here: Opener Don't Worry About It is buoyed up by Andrew Coleman's gritty but understated guitar work and a groove that it's impossible not to appreciate. The groove, if not the guitar, returns for first single She Wants To Move, and if there were more tunes of this calibre on Fly Or Die it'd be much more palatable. The title track and lightweight pop of The Way She Dances also fly, but there's a little too much dieing here for comfort.

One thing's for sure; despite Pharrell Williams' fluid vocals and the aforementioned slick production, a lot of Fly Or Die's songs don't feel finished. Hopefully this is a limitation of the band's fledgling musicianship, and not an issue with the song writing. If it is, the next N*E*R*D CD may well be worth having. If not, Williams and co-Neptune Chad Hugo should probably stick to their day jobs.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

Go to top of page
Latest articles

Alone in the dark: Buffy The Vampire Slayer bows out in style with the Season Seven DVD Collection.

Johnny Knoxville plays him in the movie Grand Theft Parsons, but counterculture speaks to the man himself: Phil Kaufman interviewed.