It’s easy to forget that Devo was forged out of the anti-war movement of the late ’60s. Member Gerald Castle actually knew two of the four students killed at Kent State, the university he was attending. From that tragedy, the theory of de-evolution began, and with like-minded progressive artists in relatively small numbers in Ohio, the band Devo was formed.
Considering how subversive the band’s origins are, and with the recent milestone of the 40th anniversary of the Kent State massacre, one would think that there would be some reference to the volatile beginnings of the band on the first Devo album in two decades.
There isn’t, which is why I’m obligated to reference it for Something For Everybody. It is indeed, as the title suggests, a plethora of mass consumerism—whether ironic or not—that picks up at the moment where Shout! left off.
If you’ll recall, 1984’s Shout! was one dismal album, the moment where the band eighty-sixed the guitar entirely and went for the uppity electronica that they evidently want to be remembered for.
Their latest is a pop album, mildly off-center thanks to the name recognition and the occasional glances to their analog keyboard beginnings. Just to date them a bit, “Mind Games” whips out some neat 8-bit blips during the intro, making it irresistibly catchy and kitschy.
“Human Rocket” uses a friggin’ vocoder, but you know what? That’s okay! After all, Devo was using similar strategies on “Beautiful World” some thirty years ago.
Something For Everybody is a pleasurable nostalgia trip for fans of Freedom Of Choice or New Traditionalists. If you’re expecting your nostalgia trip to revisit the intentionally provocative vibe of their debut or the divisive mantra of their earlier projects, you’ll be somewhat disappointed.
This album could have been more special than just modernist tweaking and idol worship. Something For Everybody could have been the “We told you so!” album of Devo’s career. A bark of provocation that would entice even the most cynical youngster to dig deeper into the catalog and cast credence into what prompted them to make music in the first place.
Instead, it’s content with only reliving only the moments that brought the band their one-hit wonder celebrity, sadly ignoring the real story of their past. While their interpretation is a great summer paperback, Something For Everybody could have been Devo’s great, late-career novel.
Video: DEVO Cat Listening Party