I don’t know what it is, but it seems like just about every time a band takes any sort of extended absence from studio work, there’s this weight hanging over their return album. Some burden of proof the band feels like it has to live up to. Some overwhelming need to prove relevance.
That seems to be especially true for Devo, a trailblazing band releasing its first album in 20 years. Unfortunately, Mark Mothersbaugh’s group seems to have mistaken a sad adherence to cliche and cultural reference from the last five years or so as relevance.
Something for Everybody is an apt title for Devo’s new record; the band seems, for maybe the first time in their careers, overeager to please. This is not the group of iconoclasts that released Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! 30-plus years ago for music nerds (and regular nerds) to buy. These clearlyare some guys who have mellowed with age and seem content putting out a record that sounds a whole lot like their previous material, but with a song of which the lyrics are dedicated entirely to the “Don’t tase me bro!” guy.
The cover of the album is a woman eating a variation on the band’s famous helmets from the “Whip It” video. It’s maybe an unintentional depiction of what the band has done. It’s eaten itself, and produced something that sounds unmistakably Devo-like in immediate sound, only with little of the personality that made Devo what it was.
You thought: It was pretty dire.