Thursday, October 9, 2014

Devo - Shout

Today (October 9th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Shout, the sixth studio album from Devo. In Canada, it peaked at number 92. Here in the US, it spent six weeks on the Billboard Album chart with a top spot of number 83.

Side one starts with the fanfare of the title track “Shout”, a bold song about making loud noise and raging against the things that are wrong in the world.

“The Satisfied Mind” features some interesting synth riffs despite some rather non-engaging lyrics.

“Don’t Rescue Me” has a strong new-wave synth dance rhythm to it. It reminds me of a hybrid of the Human League and Heaven 17, both bands I enjoyed in the early 80’s.

“The 4th Dimension” starts out with a scaled back, moody opening before kicking the tempo back up. Here a guy finds his woman has moved from this world on to another one. This one makes me think of the bands Sparks and Oingo Boingo.

“C’mon” takes various video-game arcade sound effects and fuses them with a Beatles’ “Please Please Me”-like chorus hook (the “c’mon c’mon”).

Side two begins with “Here to Go”; as a single it peaked at number 40 in Australia. Prior to this review, this was the only track from the album I was familiar – since it also appeared on a Devo’s hits collection that I own. When I hear this one, I pick up traces of Talking Heads’ David Byrne qualities in the lead vocals.

“Jurisdiction of Love”, a song about the things people do in the name of love, is next. It too features some strong new-wave dance rhythms.

“Puppet Boy” represents someone caught up in a dead-end job, going through the motions as his masters pull his strings. Devo could have been watching a bit too much of Pinocchio when they wrote this one.

“Please Please” is a twisted tale of love and the insistent begging of someone who would rather he be left alone.

The album closes with the band’s cover of Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 tune “Are You Experienced?”. Devo’s version mostly steers clear of the 60’s trippy approach and instead blazes its own musical path. For the most part, it works for me.

On first listen to Shout, there is a lot of conformity across the tracks. While I liked the record well enough, not many of the tracks were standouts. I suspect that initial sameness gets further differentiated upon subsequent listens.

For more posts about the music and influences of Devo, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

This was the last Devo album I picked up new on vinyl. And my least favorite of the four studio albums they issued from 1980-1984. You summed it up by saying there was a sameness to the tracks and thirty years later, I still feel the same way. The titular opener stands out for me as does "Here To Go" (though I like the Go Mix version better). And the album closing Hendrix reinterpretation doesn't bother me as much as it probably should.

There is a theory (that I do not subscribe to) amongst hardcore Devo fans that true to the band's beliefs, the first album was the best one and each one after it was a little less good.