ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Coming in way above their previous effort, 1990’s Smooth Noodle Maps, Something for Everybody is the album Devo’s fans had craved for 28 long years, or maybe 29, if you fall on the sour side of the iffyOh, No! It’s Devo.
The synthetic, compressed, and punchy production — courtesy of producer and Bird & the Bee member Greg Kurstin — is a modern take on the sound of 1981’s New Traditionalists, and if you judge by hooks, this is right in line with their 1980 breakthrough, Freedom of Choice, although there’s certainly no “Whip It”-sized megahit here.
Instead, there’s the opening “Fresh!” a herky-jerky, infectious number with lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh stuttering as if he just created New Wave’s “My Generation.” The wicked highlight “Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)” (“They’ll hunt you down/And tase you bro/For playing with the rules”) is the album’s other key track, thanks to Mothersbaugh’s perfect framing of de-evolution’s give (hybrid cars) and take, take, take (Beltway snipers, overzealous cops, etc.). Both highlights are co-produced by Santigold who, like Kurstin, checks her ego at the door, allowing the five spud boys to sound like a functioning band.
The twangy guitars of Bob 1 are perfectly balanced with the synths and electronic percussion from new member Josh Freese, while Mothersbaugh’s ironic downers are complemented by co-frontman Jerry Casale’s more snide and silly songs, and the two attempts to re-create the sarcastic grandeur of their masterpiece “Beautiful World” — with “Later Is Now” and “No Place Like Home” — come pretty darn close.
While some will complain that the satirical social commentary just isn’t as razor-sharp, and that the wild, primal nerdiness of their first two efforts is long gone, the purposeful Something for Everybody is proudly not a nostalgia trip and is, instead, filled with age-appropriate subversion, right up to its ironic title. “Something for Veteran Fans” is more like it with “Something Surprisingly Vital” being an even better choice. [review by David Jeffries]
Track Listing: (favorites in bold)
- What We Do
- Please Baby Please
- Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)
- Mind Games
- Human Rocket
- Step Up
- Later is Now
- No Place Like Home
- March On
Kinetic Bright Cynical/Sarcastic Ironic Lively Quirky Slick Snide Urgent Wry Brittle Energetic Nervous/Jittery