1980, Music

Freedom of Choice (1980) by Devo

As someone else put it: Devo have actually devolved – as they claim was happening to culture – only to produce their biggest hit. This contains “Whip It” – far and away their most famous song – and, as a result, the album was their biggest hit.

I really like Devo a lot. I think their debut album is one of the couple best new wave albums ever and absolutely essential listening. But this sort of feels like imitation Devo, or half-assed Devo, a little bit. The songs are less inventive and less funny/biting than in the past. They are still extremely catchy and danceable, but there’s an edge that is just gone from the material, both musically and lyrically. That being said, the songs are still damn catchy and if you like what Devo do you’ll like the songs. (They’re a more accessible set than their debut, that’s for sure.)

But what makes up for the lack of truly A+ material is the sound of the album which remains extremely Devo. Though it’s far less quirky it is still very quirky. It’s still far more “new wave” than 90% of the second wave of new wave bands that emerged in the early ’80s that had a teeny bit of quirk and so were thrown in with pioneers like Devo. I may not find the album as compelling as their debut but I can’t deny they sound like themselves, and like the best bands with a unique sound, they are very good at it.

There’s this idea that success can dull the edge of an artist or a band and it certainly seems to be the case here. That’s not a bad thing for anyone who really likes the sound but it also just means that the album is not a classic. I could listen to this over and over again and thoroughly enjoy it but I also know that it just pales in comparison to their debut.


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