After the masterpiece of rock, soul, funk and hip hop that was In Search of..., I had pretty high hopes for Fly or Die, especially after hearing the excellent first single, She Wants to Move. Unfortunately the album doesn't quite come up to scratch. Ditching Spymob, the band on In Search of..., the overall sound of Fly or Die is much less organic and more in tune with the Netpunes Clones album. Indeed if anything was an indication of where N.E.R.D. were headed, it was the Loser track from the aforementioned Clones, stilly funky but sounding more overproduced than their previous work, less off the cuff and lacking that rawness.
That said, Fly or Die is still quite good though it's pretty patchy. Highlights are the celestial Wonderful Place and the amped up The Way She Dances. Low points are Jump (which features Joel and Benji Madden from Good Charlotte), a horrid mish mash of random beats and notes that sounds like Chad or Pharrell sat on the keyboard and pressed record. In fact there's quite a lot of atonality on this album, bum notes drop here, there and everywhere, I'm guessing in an effort to make it more musically interesting but mostly it ends up leaving one feel short changed, just as the chorus should triumphantly kick in on a tune like Thrasher for example, it just peters out and is robbed of it's impact somewhat.
So, Fly or Die? Neither really. Considering that In Search Of... was such a grower, this album may be too and perhaps I'll be revising my rating upwards. Right now though it sounds fairly average. The 'tunes are human after all.