N.E.R.D returning in 2017 is an interesting prospect in itself. Surely, Tyler, the Creator is celebrating, and during Odd Future's peak of popularity, Pharrell cashing in on the goodwill being thrown his way would hardly have been surprising. Post-'Happy', however, it's less expected. The man clearly doesn't need N.E.R.D in any sense of the word, in demand and on top, and could easily have gone the rest of his career without digging the beloved 'group' back out of the drawer.

Such available comfort makes NO_ONE EVER REALLY DIES a particularly welcome reentry. Pharrell is clearly rejoining Chad Hugo (and Shay Haley, yes) out of a real desire to do so, rather than necessity. If In Search Of... was a niche album, The Neptunes' attempts to go bigger in years since usually stumbled. Their most famous member's experience in the spotlight in the 7 years since their last effort have clearly paid off.

NO_ONE presents itself as the rare reunion album that not only offers fans the immediate, often shallow, gratification of their favorites getting the band back together, but boasts a collective more confident than ever. Many of the songs here practically strut with confidence and purpose.

Opener 'Lemon' was subtly hyped up on Pharrell and guest Rihanna's Instagram all the way back in 2015, but the way we didn't realize we were suffering through was worth it. Bad girl Ri Ri may steal the show, but it hardly matters, while this is clearly Pharrell's show, he's all too happy to cede the spotlight to is impressive guest list. 'Voila' may not be essential, but its vibrant, peak-Neptunes grooves perfectly suit Gucci Mane, who reacts with clear glee, and as it switches up into a tin drum backing in the last third, it even manages to make Wale presentable.

Making the most of a chart-topping year, Kendrick Lamar rears his head not once, but twice. 'Kites' is important simply for bringing him together with M.I.A.. 'Don't Don't Do It!' brings Pharrell and Lamar back in the direction of their 'Alright' masterpiece, again managing to mix fears of police and societal concerns into an uplifting, joyous bop. Then there's Andre 3000 rapping about pterodactyls, obviously an essential last minute moment for 2017. Oddly, it's the Future boasting track that falls somewhat flat, growing repetitive with the 'Mask Off' Atlanta superstar's appearance being practically negligible.

While it's easy to get lost in the bevy of featured stars here, Pharrell and co. deserve endless credit as curators. While many likely scratched their heads at the inclusion of Ed Sheeran – on the album closer no less – his presence is thankfully restrained, tastefully brief. That said, it's not a flawless affair, with 'Lightning Fire Magic Prater' not quite justifying its nearly 8 minute length, and 'Secret Life of Tigers' wearing a bit thin.

Some may miss the more rock-influenced days of the group's debut, but Pharrell's more recent taste rules here. It's for the better. NO_ONE EVER REALLY DIES plays like an album length party, with no groove that won't make you want to get off the couch and dance. Whatever people will try to liken this to, it's most akin to a celebration, looking back on a blessed career and offering up thanks in the form of infectious, irresistible vibes. With the group's future (naturally) uncertain, enjoy the show, it may be one night only.