Review #252: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Devo

Karla Clifton
3 min readMar 18, 2022

#252: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Devo

I try not to talk about my boyfriend too much. I know it’s annoying to hear about significant others. Especially from writers. Like, “Shut up about your boyfriend, we get it.” And I agree. And I’m sorry but here we go: I listened to Devo with my boyfriend.

I was nervous he would hate it. (I compared them to the Stooges in my notes for “Too Much Paranoias”. Enough said.) I was surprised, then, when he enjoyed Devo a lot. A LOT. I played this for him eleven months and 1,800 miles apart, and both times, he found them delightful. We spent a lot of time laughing along to Mark Mothersbaugh’s insane voice. He sounds like if David Byrne had fun. If I had a dollar for every time we burst into laughter during this mockingly-titled half-hour-long forty-five-year-old Devo album, I would have, like, at least twenty-five dollars.

“Uncontrollable Urge” is the really fun one that gets stuck in your head and Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeayeayeayeayeayeyeYEAH!, and honestly, putting a cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones is super bold. I mean, it’s a truly great cover, with I think no guitar at all and some weirdo lyrical substitutions (my personal favorite being girly action instead of girl reaction), but this was their debut! Oh, young people. It might be my favorite song.

“Mongoloid” has more scary, stomping fun than it has any right to, and so did “Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin’).” “Devo is weird,” said my boyfriend. “What a weird band.”

The back half of Q: is much more experimental than the front. Some of it isn’t unpleasant, like “Come Back Jonee.” (Though it’s the last track and I guess I appreciate them socking it to me.) “Gut Feeling / (Slap Your Mammy)” could almost be “House of the Rising Sun,” until his vocals kick in and make everything wild, then really does devolve in a real way into the final minute of the song. Devo really shucks off conventional song structure.

Speaking of “devolving,” Devo’s music isn’t even the most fun thing about them. They’re named after the believe in “de-evolution”; that is, that humanity is slowly becoming less advanced rather than more. (Think Idiocracy, but on a biological level.) If you’re not convinced we’re not regressing on a biological, even cellular level, you’re not paying attention. Their double-feature music video with “Jocko Homo” (as well as a disturbing cover of Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man” that didn’t quite make the album) serves as an arthouse ode to the concept, literally titled “The Theory of De-evolution.” Are they not men? They are Devo!

This was also the most fun RS blurb to read: “rubber punk,” “soul-chilling,” “troublingly-catchy” are some of the descriptive terms used for their music. Now THAT’s music journalism. But I gotta say, for even better music journalism, listen to a twenty-five-year-old man who has a self-professed distaste for “stressful” music hear “Praying Hands” for the first time. “Music is too weird. We should have stopped making music.” — That Man.

Still, he loved this album and was pleasantly surprised when it ended, even though “Shrivel-Up” left him a little anxious. He was disappointed they were from Akron, OH and not Antarctica. We played the “Whip It” music video after. It’s fun to be alive and share the weirdness of the world with someone else.

Fun Fact: Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo’s singer, had a hand in creating the Jak and Daxter video games’ soundtrack and albums.

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