Devo - Duty Now for the Future (1979), 7/10

Devo has an odd band evolution that matches their odd sensibilities as a group of musicians. Duty Now for the Future encapsulates the eccentric side of the band that intensified the punk exhibited in their debut. There is a very consistently oddball energy that makes the album charming and humorous from start to finish, with almost no diversion apart from “Triumph of the Will” which feels out of place. Songs like “Wiggly World” or the two-part “Smart Patrol / Mr. DNA” exemplify what makes Devo peculiarly exceptional. The project assembles into a logical next step after Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! just before their wide-reaching yet simplified Freedom of Choice. Duty hangs onto the musical complexity of their foundational work while expanding on even more complicated structures and experimenting with oddball synth soundscapes. The album as an experience is certainly one that takes time to grow, even in comparison to the group’s early work, largely because of its intentionally unconventional choices, both thematically and sonically. Still, the band elevates surprisingly simple songs through a combination of wonky synths and playful lyrics; a prime example of this being “S.I.B. (Swelling Itching Brain)” which is essentially just an ascending/descending scale accented with contrasting sounds and Mothersbaugh’s signature vocals filling in the gaps. The second side of the record builds on the tension from the onset before climaxing with “Smart Patrol / Mr. DNA” which is perhaps one of Devo’s most entertaining standalone songs contained in a very fast six minutes. While their debut is rightfully a legendary record with a considerable reputation and their pop-sensible career would bring them earned recognition, Duty Now for the Future bottles the excellence that is Devo into one sensationally wacky listening experience.