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DEVO's "Duty Now for the Future (1979)"


(Written with assistance of ChatGPT)


In the realm of innovative and boundary-pushing music, few bands can hold a candle to Devo. Hailing from Akron, Ohio, this quintessential new wave band shook the music world with their 1979 album, "Duty Now for the Future." As a sophomore effort, it cemented their status as pioneers of a genre that blended art, philosophy, and social commentary with catchy, danceable tunes. "Duty Now for the Future" was, and still is, a testament to their unmatched creativity and foresight.


Released in July 1979, "Duty Now for the Future" was a fitting follow-up to their debut album, "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!" While the first album introduced us to Devo's deconstructed, post-apocalyptic vision of pop culture, "Duty Now for the Future" expanded upon this concept, delving deeper into the band's socio-political commentary and critique of modern society. From the album cover, featuring the band members wearing their iconic yellow jumpsuits, to the thought-provoking lyrics, every element of this record was meticulously crafted to convey a message.


One of the standout tracks on the album is "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise," a prime example of Devo's knack for blending catchy melodies with thought-provoking lyrics. It's a testament to the band's ability to use seemingly simple pop songs as vehicles for deeper philosophical musings.


Another gem from the album is the cover song "Secret Agent Man," a satirical take on the paranoia of the Cold War era. Devo's signature use of repetitive, robotic rhythms and Mark Mothersbaugh's deadpan vocals create an atmosphere of tension and unease, perfectly capturing the spirit of the times. It's a song that feels both timely and timeless, serving as a reminder that the issues it addresses are still relevant today.


"Duty Now for the Future" also features the iconic track "Clockout," a song that encapsulates Devo's fascination with conformity. With lyrics like "I'm a number not a man, now you've made me what I am," the band highlights the dehumanizing effects of modern society and the pressure to conform to societal norms. It's a theme that resonates with listeners of all generations, making the album as relevant today as it was in 1979.


One of the most remarkable aspects of Devo's music is their ability to create a sense of urgency and excitement while delivering a message that encourages critical thinking. Tracks like "Triumph of the Will" and "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA" are perfect examples of this. The band's use of synthesizers, electronic drums, and unconventional sounds created a sonic landscape that was ahead of its time, foreshadowing the electronic and industrial music movements that would follow.


"Duty Now for the Future" is not just an album; it's a manifesto. Devo challenged the status quo and questioned the direction of society, urging us to take responsibility for our future. Their music served as a wake-up call, a call to action, and an invitation to embrace change and innovation. It was a call to duty, and it resonated with a generation searching for something more than the mainstream had to offer.


In conclusion, "Duty Now for the Future" is a masterpiece that continues to inspire and provoke thought. Devo's ability to blend thought-provoking lyrics with infectious melodies and groundbreaking production makes this album a timeless classic. It's a testament to the band's vision and their commitment to pushing the boundaries of music and culture. So, if you haven't already, it's high time you embraced your duty to listen to this future-shaping album.


Shannon McDowell and ChatGPT

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