Under Review: Devo – Something For Everybody

Before I get into why Devo’s new album is, without a doubt, my favorite album of the year, here’s some important background info:  In 1990, Devo released Smooth Noodle Maps, an album that, like all of the group’s records, is a fully realized vision.  What made that album different from Devo’s more well-known albums is that SNM was the portrait of a very disenchanted band.  For years, Devo had been fighting an uphill battle with the music industry, particularly with what pop music was supposed to sound like and what musicians were supposed to look like.  It was a battle that they had waged since their earliest days, when they terrorized conventions with deconstructed covers, outlandish outfits and challenging ideology.  Devo’s truly essential catalogue ends with 1982’s Oh, No! It’s Devo, though Shout and Total Devo do have cult followings within the band’s greater cult following.  Smooth Noodle Maps was the final stroke from the group, whose lead members had grown bored with pop music.  Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh went on to establish Mutato Muzika, where they continue to bring their inimitable humorous style to the musical scores of films, television shows, video games and commercials.  Bassist Gerald Casale, when not collaborating with the Mothersbaughs, formed Jihad Jerry and the Evildoers, a satirical political group that magnified Devo’s notorious image-warping to the point of provocation.  While its members kept themselves busy, it seemed that Devo itself had gone the way of Shasta and the Atari.

In 2007, Devo released its first single in 16 years.  “Watch Us Work It” was an instantly satisfying blast of jittery rhythms and immediate hooks.  The band’s members’ stories conflicted on whether or not there would be a full album any time soon.  Not long after, the band released another stand-alone track, “Don’t Shoot (I’m A Man),” implying that the guys of Devo knew something we didn’t.  Little by little, information that Devo’s ninth album was on the way leaked from the band’s corporation-styled camp.  The group continued to tour, suggesting that they were indeed ready to reenter the music world.  Years went by with the status of the new album unclear.  Potential titles and release dates came and went, leaving eager fans to wonder if their waiting was to be in vain.  Then came the “Devo Color Study” (which determined the band’s new color scheme) and the “Song Study” (which provided clips of 16 possible inclusions for the new album).  With a few more live appearances and amusingly silly web videos, Something For Everybody was announced as being “88% focus group approved.”  After such a long wait and so many false starts and stops, are Devo’s fans in for something special?  You bet your energy dome.

Something For Everybody begins with one of the band’s best post-popular era songs: “Fresh.”  A rush of jagged dance rock, the track ushers in the band’s new set with gusto.  That’s followed by “What We Do,” which, like “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA,” features vocals from all three of the band’s singers.  The overall sound of Something For Everybody is similar to Freedom Of Choice and New Traditionalists, in that it doesn’t exclusively favor either guitars or synthesizers.  Additionally, the album features some of the band’s more straightforward melodic sensibilities, such as the anthemic “Mind Games” and “Later Is Now.”  Fans of the band’s more avant-garde tendencies need not fear, as songs like “Cameo” and “Sumthin’” feature Devo’s trademark oddball touches.  The production quality on Something For Everybody is exceptionally high; not surprising given that the band roped in Santi “Santogold” White, The Apples In Stereo’s John Hill, and powerhouse Greg Kurstin to work on the disc.  The slick, updated sound might jar some fans, but it’s a sonic shift that works very well for the upbeat new material.  Though “Don’t Shoot” made the final album cut, “Watch Us Work It” (and three others) did not, and will be available on the deluxe version.  Even casual listeners should give Something For Everybody a chance, as it’s already  been proven that they’ll enjoy it.  Something For Everybody is a proud addition to Devo’s catalogue, and will hopefully propel the band into an even more productive and fruitful future.  Duty now!

~ by E. on June 14, 2010.

One Response to “Under Review: Devo – Something For Everybody”

  1. So, you like this album, right?

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