Something for Everybody
By Al Kaufman
“What we do/Is what we do/It’s all the same/There’s nothing new” sings Devo on their first album of new material in 20 years. And they are correct. Something for Everybody sounds like it’s been only 20 months since Freedom of Choice, Devo’s high watermark. And while Devo break no new ground on Something for Everybody, that’s exactly the point.
Devo took their name from De-evolution. The thinking of the Mothersbaugh and Casale brothers was that man had not evolved, but regressed into a sort of herd mentality. We no longer had time or inclination for creativity or soul. Instead, we just wanted to be cool. Of course, in doing so, Devo, with their synth driven frenetic beats and robotic, mechanical sounds, became one of the most innovative bands of the ’80s. Because the rest of the world has finally caught up, their sound continues to sound modern and fresh.
And they continue to spread their message that we are a boring, homogenized people. “Sumthin'” speaks of our, or politicians’, need to please everyone. “What We Do” speaks of the lack of desire for freshness. But Devo always spread their message with a good dose of humor and satire. “Don’t tase me, bro” they sing on “Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man);” a song about a guy in fear of being picked off from a roof top, but also a commentary about senseless violence. Then, just in case you thought Devo was trying to be futuristic, they hit you with “Cameo” about that annoying guy with the ’80’s hit, “Word Up.”
For Devo fans, Something for Everybody is worth the 20 year wait. Devo is able to sound both modern and retro, both soulful and soulless. They twitch and jerk through the 12 songs (chosen from fans on the website out of an original 16 songs) at an exciting clip. So go ahead and join the herd. In this case, it’s okay to de-evolve.