This is a big undertaking, but I'll try to do this as regularly as I can.

Track Marks will be a post dedicated to the release (or leak) a full album that I have come across. I'll go track by track and give my reactions to each of the songs that lie within.

First up: N.E.R.D. Seeing Sounds

Inspired by the neurological phenomenon synesthesia, which combines two senses Pharell, Chad and Shay were fascinated the phenomena after watching a Discovery Channel program about it during recording sessions. "It's a mixture of senses that may cause a person to experience colorful hearing, auditory smell. For example, you might see something, and it might trigger a song. You might hear something, and it might trigger a taste in your mouth. When we created this album, it was the music we envisioned while creating it. We decided it would be the appropriate title for the album."

1. Time For Some Action [3:24]
Beginning with a twinkling underbeat reminiscent of something you'd hear on Leave it to Beaver or Dennis the Menace, Pharell speaks over the first :50 of the track. After that is said and done, we get a chunky funky bass line, and it's good enough, but similar to some of their older works. Incorporating "whoah-oh's" and a school bell towards the end of the track is a nice touch, but not a particularly strong way to start the album. It would've worked best had it been used as an intro and cut off right at that just-under-the-minute mark.
Track Mark = B

2. Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing in Line for the Bathroom) [3:27]
The retail copy of the song is much better produced than any version you freeloaded. There are additional scratches in it that just make it that much more enjoyable. Picture it: all the "bros" dancing to it and mock dj scratching during it. It's inevitable. Still a great track. I love the mellow breakdown in the middle of the song.
Track Mark = B+

3. Windows [2:59]
This tale could go either way. The story of a John Cusack Say Anything-ish moment staring in a gal's window. Or is it Pervy McPeeping Tom spying on the "10" next door? I'm going with the latter. But I really dig this track. The "duh doe doe doe duh doe doe's" are a nice motown inspired throwback.
Track Mark = A-

4. Anti Matter [4:04]
This has next single potential written all over it. Beginning with the female vocals proclaiming "You so not matter...", squealing keys usher in Pharell and the verses take off. In typical N.E.R.D. fashion, there's a song break in the middle, where the beat, key, tone changes. It's one of the things I appreciate most by this group. That, and the line "Mother fucker are you ADHD?"
Track Mark = A

5. Spaz [3:50]
After hearing this song during every commerical break seeing as how Zune is really pimping out that monthly music pass, I wasn't sure I could sit through this entire track. It's a little grating on my last nerve. But I still can't get enough of this line. "I'm a little teapot blowing off put me on heat, I don't whistle, I scream..."
Track Mark = C

6. Yeah You [4:06]
Pharell doesn't have the greatest melodic singing voice, but I would let him croon this in my ear any day of the week. Loving the use of horns and hand claps are a near panty dropper for me. Note to self: do NOT call or text him 100 times.
Track Mark = B

7. Sooner or Later [6:43]
I always knew that the guys were good songwriters. But this track proves it. Starting off with a melody, 70's-influenced chorused vocals, and a piano line that the Carpenters could have very well written, it's a smooth track. The guitar solo towards the end makes baby making almost a sure bet. Make sure to have your American Spirits nearby for the post act.
Track Mark = B-

8. Happy [4:35]
Ooh, we get some intense guitar riffs to start this off, complete with whammy bar goodness. More Pharell singing with a call-and-answer "Things are looking good now...(gooo-oood now)". We've got what very well sounds like it could be an electronically charged xylophone treatment during the instrumental break at the end. And it very well could be, since we are seeing sounds here.
Track Mark = B+

9. Kill Joy [4:10]
I can live without this track. Mock gun sounds and the Little Red Riding Hood lyrics aren't quite cutting it for me. The syncopation and Pharell's inflection on this one make it seem like a track that the Red Hot Chili Peppers left off any one of their albums.
Track Mark = D

10. Love Bomb [4:36]
From the first line, I'm hooked. "Sitting here in this white padded room...imagining I'm a meteor flying out through the distant space..." It's another slower track with Pharell, at time, straining to hit high notes. But then the chorus kicks. "We need a love blow us away..." This track has everything. The cooled out mellow singing during the verses. Acoustic guitars. Strings. Horns. Hearty drums. If a Love Bomb is wrong, then I don't want to be right.
Track Mark = A+

11. You Know What [4:30]
Ashford & Simpson could have penned this song 20 years ago and it would have been a hit then. They could have written it last week and it would still be a hit today. The wah-wah'd out sounds are a nice treat. Lyrically and melodically pleasing all across the board.
Track Mark = B+

12. Laugh About It [4:04]
Sadly, I wish this was not the last track. Not becasue I want the music to continue. I just don't feel 100% strongly about this ending the album. Love Bomb would've ended it better. All in all, it's not a terrible track, so I'll just Laugh About It.
Track Mark = C-

Ultimately, it's a thoroughly pleasurable, well-thought out album. With many of the songs coming out as softer surprises with hidden sounds you can see all the way through.

mp3: N.E.R.D. - Love Bomb

(this is my 300th post. please notify me of any and all presents here.)