Thursday, June 17, 2010

Devo - 'Something For Everybody'

Twenty years after the release of Smooth Noodle Maps, Devo has finally returned with a new studio album (Devo 2.0 notwithstanding) called Something For Everybody. Give them credit for this: The new focus-grouped album (88 percent approved!) sounds like classic Devo, just with an updated contemporary dance sound. Whether or not the world needed this release is another matter. Much like the B-52s’ own comeback record, Funplex, Something For Everybody boasts enough overly glossy yet catchy numbers to avoid embarrassing the band’s legacy, but it doesn’t exactly build it up either. Still, though, these sarcastic post-punk jams can be awfully funny at times.

Something For Everybody doesn’t sit well as one continuous listen, but there are enough moments spread around the album that should get a laugh, like when the band turns “Don’t taze me bro” into the outro for “Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man).” For all the stuttering rhythms, there are plenty of hooks, reminding the listener that Mark Mothersbaugh is still a top notch songwriter.

What sinks the record is a cavalcade of uninspired lyrics coupled with repetitive music. For a while, Something is funny so long as the tunes are interpreted as jokes. But eventually the rampant use of clich├ęs and faux-sincerity stop being funny – probably around track five, the sort of misogynistic “Mind Games.” The songs blur together after a while too. Cue the drum beat and techno textures, kill time until Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale sing in a weird voice.

There are some nifty numbers here (“Fresh,” “Don’t’ Shoot,” “Human Rocket”), but nothing tops the songs the band turned out in their heyday like “Jocko Homo” or “Gates of Steel.” Something For Everybody isn’t the most embarrassing comeback album, but it doesn’t do much to earn the phrase “comeback album” either.

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