I finally got to hear Fly Or Die by NERD this week, and while its pretty mediocre, I'm disappointed by the humorlessness and/or anger it met from most critics. One of the fascinating things about Pharrell is the mixture of inept absurdity and infectiousness. His word choices are eccentric, often laughable, but never delivered with a blatantly ironic wink. R. Kelly, who has a similar love for the artlessly blunt, sounds both more commanding and good humored. Fly Or Die shows the Neptunes at their most nakedly amateurish and silly; a big-dick Ween. The first three tracks (gotta love the Good Charlotte cameo) and "She Wants To Move" are spirited enough to reward repeat listening (though it's an even bigger mess than "Like I Love You," I couldn't hate on the single once I realized how much fun it would be to sing at karaoke) but the rest is interminable malarkey worthy of the dismissals they've received from most bloggers. I just wish NERD haters didn't come off like such fuddy-duddies.
Aside from solid smashes like "Milkshake" and some Clipse hits, NERD songs appeal more out of endless quirk and novelty than confident mastery. Where most folks try to impress with nuthin'-but-net championship-game 3-pointers, Chad and Pharrell are doing flips off the trampoline in gorilla outfits, more often than not slamming headfirst into the backboard. It's fascinating (and when they hit the ground they do the robot for a sec before trying again) but kind of childish. I suppose folks who previously declared them geniuses would be apt to get bitter and irate over their antics, but personally I'm just glad they're keeping things interesting. They may be assclowns but they aren't no-talent assclowns. I'm guessing that the eventual commercial cold shoulder will inspire them to lukewarm it up, try some obvious hits ("Beautiful" would have been a snore with or without that shit-tacular Curtis Mayfield impression). I'm curious if Fly Or Die will inspire the same amount of bile then.