N.E.R.D and Future’s ‘1000’ collaboration can’t make up its mind

The third song revealed from ‘NO ONE EVER REALLY DIES’ isn’t a touch on Rihanna collab ‘Lemon’

N.E.R.D have shared three tracks from comeback album ‘NO ONE EVER REALLY DIES’ (out December 15), each more frantic than the last. Rihanna’s starring verse on the future-gazing ‘Lemon’ was a saving grace. Andre 3000-collaboration ‘Rollinem 7s’ was from the same headspace – all glitchy, stop-start samples and monotone bass. Next up: ‘1000’, a cluttered, unpredictable nosedive into mad, maximalist noise.

‘1000’ is about getting rich and learning how to deal with it. While Pharrell Williams casts his eye at the band’s funk-rock rise to the top (“Holy shit it’s working, now look at my friends”), Atlanta rapper Future uses autotune to explore his diamond-encrusted surroundings (“We got gold by the bar, that’s thousands / We can gamble right now, bet a thousand, shoot a thousand”).

1000

1000, an album by N.E.R.D, Future on Spotify

These dollar-counting declarations sound like they’re from different worlds. Future’s vocal is slightly off-key, alien compared to Pharrell’s vocal-free style. He’s working to a different beat too, one less naggingly in-your-face. And just like the best of Future’s work, each boast comes with its own bittersweet aftertaste. He’s magnetically detached from success, and it’s a guest spot that deserves more running time, just like with Rihanna’s on ‘Lemon’.

For a group renowned for mastering flow and space, N.E.R.D don’t seem capable of keeping a lid on their wild ideas. When ’1000’ goes hard, which it does for about 30 seconds, it bounces off the walls and matches the all-caps sound Pharrell and co. intend to master. Otherwise, it’s entirely lacking in cool restraint – the exact quality N.E.R.D kickstarted their career with.