Devo – Something For Everybody

January 01, 1970

(Warner Bros)



Forgive me if I
seem blasé about this new album from the reunited Devo. It appears that the
arrival of Something for Everybody has
made folks who should know better forget that reunion albums from seminal
groups are seldom advisable. Granted, it has been 20 years since Devo’s last
album, but by the time the guys got around to that album (1990’s Smooth Noodle Maps), it was pretty clear
the inspiration that powered them through the ‘70s and early ‘80s had been more
than exhausted. In fact, it could be argued that Devo’s biggest hit –  1980’s
“Whip It,” and the accompanying Freedom
of Choice
album – marked the beginning of the end of the group’s groundbreaking
message-mongering art.



But two decades
of absence can lead to a lot of nostalgic whitewashing, and Something for Everybody has been greeted
with praise that makes it seem like the album that 1984’s Shout should have been. It isn’t. Although Something kicks off with a refreshing bang, as an opening cut,
“Fresh” is closer to the straightforward thrill of “Time Out For Fun” than the
jittery weirdness of “Uncontrollable Urge.” In fact, the comfort level that the
Mothersbaughs and Casales demonstrate on the album is what makes it such an
unsatisfying experience. The first half of the album trades in predictable and
occasionally epic synth-pop that, though certainly enjoyable, has none of the
creepy politi-futurism of Devo’s best work. The second half of the album – with
the exception of the spry and engaging “Later Is Now” – is positively dull,
with thickly produced, paint-by-numbers Devo-isms like “Sumthin'” and “March
On” sounding more like Euro-dance puffery than postmodern gate-smashing. And,
really, do we need a piano ballad like “No Place Like Home” cluttering up a
Devo album in 2010?



If Something for Everybody wasn’t a Devo
album, there’s no doubt that it would be instantly dismissed as a heavy-handed
piece of music-by-committee. And, of course, one hopes that’s what the band had
in mind here: by creating a weak album that’s bound to be well-received, they
crafted some super-meta statement that proves music fans are just as spud-like
today as they were 30 years ago. At least, that’s what one hopes.


Standout Tracks: “Fresh,”




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