Although the first version of ‘In Search Of...’, released last year, was a brilliantly structured mix of electro funk and digital rock, it clearly wasn’t good enough to satisfy its creators, The Neptunes. They will surely be happy with their second attempt. The reincarnation of ‘In Search Of...' is a complete re-recording, with ‘real’ instruments and tweaked arrangements employed to create an album which surpasses the original.
If the favourable reception the first record received owed much to The Neptunes' trademark synthetic production, perhaps not enough credit was given for the sheer strength of this material. No matter how you dress these songs up, the fact remains they are outstanding, and it just so happens they are kitted out here particularly well.
Opening track ‘Lapdance’ is the only song where The Neptunes' adjusted set up sounds slightly inappropriate. Then again, in its previous guise, it was a near-perfect single, and this re-working doesn’t really add anything of note.
But when a song as good as ‘Lapdance’ is an album’s ‘weakest’ point, it surely goes without saying that the rest of the record is extraordinary. ‘In Search Of…' mixes up Hip Hop and electric guitars to thunderous effect on ‘Truth Or Dare’ and ‘Rock Star’, while ‘Bobby James’ and ‘Things Are Getting Better’ are R&B/Pop crossover tunes as good as anything in this, or any other genre.
Despite sacrificing contemporary production values for more orthodox methods, ‘In Search Of…’ is still a thoroughly modern soul album. It’s melodious, but retains an edge which so many R&B records lose through over-elaboration, or lack of decent tunes. Here, the balance is spot on. NER*D have transformed a fantastic album into a musical landmark.
9Jonathan Rawcliffe's Score