Pharrell

In My Mind (Star Trak/Interscope)

Neptune Pharrell Williams is an ultra-successful producer, yet his attempts to become a pop star haven't worked out too well -- and Mind demonstrates why. Judging by the disc, Williams is better at boosting others' careers than he is at bringing out the finest in himself.

Plenty of big names contribute, including Gwen Stefani, who cameos on "Can I Have It Like That," an okay single that preceded the CD's release by more than a year. But since Williams's guests are more vocally distinctive than he is, his attempts to go it alone tend toward snooziness; witness "You Can Do It Too," a number as dull as a rusty butter knife. Worse, halfhearted backing tracks such as the one on "Keep It Playa," featuring Slim Thug, suggest that he's saving the good stuff for his paying customers.

Williams is too talented to release a total disaster, and the likes of "Raspy Shit" improve with repeated listens. Nevertheless, his solo debut remains underwhelming -- a would-be interstellar object that seldom takes flight.

 
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