Devo is preparing to release its first album of new material together in 20 years, and has unleashed a “Fresh” single in advance.
Founding member Gerald Casale has said in interviews past that the as-yet-untitled effort picks up where the band left off. Which, in Devo’s case, is not a bad thing. The new-wave, dance-rock, weirdo-pop group was ahead of its time (even as they adopted a philosophy on the *devo*lutionary state of society), starting with “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” in 1978. “Fresh” keeps hold of that robotic, hypnotic, synthy-swirly rock and pushes it through a crescendo so brilliant, it’s sad when it ends. The new album promises other “fresh” producers’ contribution, from folks like Santigold, the Dust Brothers’ John King and Greg Kurstin.
Even more mind-bending, and entertaining, is one of the band’s new stock-photo speckled YouTube videos (below), a meta-promotional tactic that announces that the band is re-developing its image via “focus groups.” I guess that means us. Right now, we can choose the color of the group’s infamous cylindrical hats, for instance.
“[We have] initiated a series of studies to help the band determine every decision it makes regarding its body coverage, its brand colour, its graphic icons and even its choice of vocal, style and instrumentation on any given song,” the narrator warns.
In a way, the strategy for remaking a band in our own mind’s eye’s vision is a de-evolution of art, but to, say, labels or publicists, is a profitable way to make our media more marketable. Just think of the wonders audience and focus group testing has done to movies! The snake eats it’s own tail! I need a nap.
“Devo is real now,” Casale told the L.A. Times recently. “Devo is not ahead of its time. Devo is not scary or shocking … We’re the house band on the Titanic, and we’re here to entertain as we all go down.”
OK, we’re sorry, we take it back. We won’t call it a comeback.