Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Devo - Something For Everybody

"Something For Everybody" marks the first full album of new Devo material since "Smooth Noodle Maps" a full 20 years ago. It's very rare that a band takes a layoff of that length and is able to return with an LP of material that's this strong.

The band sounds absolutely energized on this album with songs that sound as if they could have easily been released on "Freedom Of Choice" or "New Traditionalists," and yet sound totally modern at the same time. Personally, this has been one of my most anticipated releases ever since I first heard 'Watch Us Work It' years ago, and it's quite reassuring that "Something For Everybody" lives up to the hype.

This album truly does have something for everybody; fast rockers, inspirational ballads, and lyrics that appear to be wake-up calls to the de-evolutionized masses. The album starts off strong with the current single 'Fresh.' This song gives you but a taste of what you're in for with the rest of the album; great lead guitar, solid drumming from Josh Freese, and the typically cryptic/insightful lyrics of Mark Mothersbaugh.

What follows on the album's remaining 11 tracks (15, if you get the deluxe edition) is a Devo for the 21st century at the peak of their abilities.
In the second track 'What We Do', Mothersbaugh seems to go off against the entirety of the human race, stating that no one is truly unique, and that what we all do is basically the same. The bridge of "Eatin' and breedin' and pumping gas, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, do it again," perfectly summarizes a lot of our daily lives, and as usual, Mothersbaugh is pretty much on point with the lyrical content.

Album highlight 'Later Is Now,' is an ode to procrastination with some excellent musical and vocal performances. The hook of "I'll deal with it later...Later is Now!" is another dig at society's "put if off" attitude. 'No Place Like Home' is one of the best ballads Devo has ever produced. It's an absolutely beautiful song that describes the insignificance of all our lives and how sometimes there's "No place like home, to return to."

'Don't Shoot (I'm a Man)' addresses the fear of dying that we all fear everyday, sometimes on our way to work. Mothersbaugh's transformation of the YouTube clip/Internet Meme "Don't Tase Me, Bro" into a hook is absolute genius. His lyrics are one of the high points of this album, he's able to make both the mundane and the political extremely catchy and not sound preachy.
That's not to say that the lyrics are the sole reason you'll want to hear this album if your a Spud (Devo Fan) or a newcomer to their music. The main draw is the return of the classic Devo sound that infected music fans back in 1980 with the release of the classic "Freedom of Choice." The band is super-tight on this record, without a dull note anywhere. It's all solid with some of the weird "Devo-Synth" that fans have come to expect and love.

Sadly, the album does stumble with the too bizarre for it's own good, 'Cameo.' I don't know what they were thinking putting this on the album. It's the only letdown on this album, and would've made more sense as a B-Side or bonus track.

In a world where a new buzz band seems to sprout up every other day on the web, it's comforting to know that Devo, a classic band of the late 70's and 80's have been able to make an album that sounds as vital and important as this one.

If only every comeback album could be as good as "Something For Everybody" the musical landscape would be a much more interesting place.

Best Tracks:
No Place Like Home
What We Do
Please Baby Please
Don't Shoot (I'm a Man)
Human Rocket
Watch Us Work It (iTunes exclusive)


Cameron Clarke said...

Jerry Casale actually sings on No Place Like Home, and he and Mark both sing on What We Do, but yeah, good review, great album.

The Real Matt C said...

Fixed...thanks for the heads up.