Devo, as it would never let you forget for a second, was a concept band. As early formulators of now long-familiar ironic attitudes about the end of progress, the inevitability of electronic instrumentation, and the explosion of genericism, Mark Mothersbaugh, Gerald V. Casale, and crew were ahead of their time when their Warner Bros. debut appeared out of Akron, Ohio, during the early new wave year 1978. But unlike, say, the B-52's, they didn't bother to seem very likeable; that went beyond the concept. Clever, funny, dance-minded, occasionally even provocative with their sociological hunches masquerading shrewdly as ideas, Devo was always running for class president of New Wave University. Despite a few close elections, some big hits, and several major video awards, year after year the group lost. Still, those all-out attempts did show others how to campaign. Working with producer Brian Eno on the debut, the band placed hummable ditties like "Mongoloid" and its cool, dismissive version of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" alongside studyhall overtures, anthems, and streched-out riffs. The album triumphs, even today, because of its absorbing sound, a curious blend of some recognizable rock flash and lots of new plastic. This is the rock ensemble as articulate shrink-wrap.


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