It's only fitting that Pharrell Williams has finally jettisoned collaboration for a solo career. The hallmark of his six-year chart reign as half of the superproducer team the Neptunes has always been reduction, stripping down urban music to its essence. That genius remains on In My Mind most definitively on the single "Can I Have It Like That." A generically hot-blooded rhyme and a pointless Gwen Stefani cameo are redeemed by a single musical element an acoustic bass line that writhes as ominously as a rattlesnake and the whole thing gets over like crazy. Unfortunately, Pharrell's skillful, skeletal soul and hip-hop now give you too clear a view of the man behind the music. His intention to supplant Justin Timberlake as the 21st-century Michael Jackson is obvious, and during inspired moments such as "Number One," the perhaps-inevitable duet with Kanye West; or the ethereal R&B of "Our Father" Pharrell can be convincing. Over an entire album, however, neither his wispy falsetto nor his Westian, backpack-meets-bling verses carry enough charge to make In My Mind the Thriller it aspires to be.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.