http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/09eeabdb3413f8a6b138ecd9edbcfbd4245b2e42.jpg Freedom Of Choice


Freedom Of Choice

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
November 27, 1980

After the seminal mutant microcosm of the modern world they constructed on Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Devo have moved on to present their listeners with a no-win situation. It's creepy enough to think that these musicians would laugh at you if you took them seriously. But it's even creepier to believe that they'd still laugh if you played it cool and pretended to get the joke.

This kind of inscrutable smirk winks back at you from all over Devo's third album. There aren't many musical differences between Freedom of Choice and the first two LPs. What makes things uncomfortable is the change of topic. Now that the so-smart Spud boys have turned their poker faces toward the boy-girl game, they play it with such horrific lyrical literalness that it's impossible to figure out their attitude. There are a few clever variations on the theme ("Snowball," "Girl U Want") and some nonmating dances ("Freedom of Choice," "Mr. B's Ballroom"), but the gist feels like moon-June-spoon.

And we're supposed to take this stuff straight? C'mon! The adenoidal lead vocals sound like they're being delivered while held at arm's length, as Devo's mechanically pitched rhythms click in coldly all around them. When the band heats up or the singer sounds like someone's actually inhabiting his vocal chords or a thick, loud guitar forces its way to the forefront, there's a momentary ring of truth. It just doesn't happen often enough to eradicate the record's suspicious emptiness.

Doesn't everyone feel dumb enough about love without encouragement from a bunch of guys with red flowerpots on their heads?

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Madame George”

    Van Morrison | 1968

    One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

    More Song Stories entries »