With album five now out, Devo again proves to be at their best with a singular brand of dance song — sort of a Chubby Checker-in-space idea, with loony instructions set to a mechanized stomp. The premise — and the joke — would seem to be that in the automated world, dancers become automatons. Introduced with the debut LP's "Praying Hands" ("Assume the position, go into doggie submission"), the formula really clicked with "Whip It." The latest example, already a rock-disco hit, is "Peek-a-Boo!" an infectious bundle of jolting rhythms. While Kraftwerk uses moody synthesizers to explore textures and voices, the German band's American cousins use all their electronic musical gizmos to find the beat: hold the atmospherics, pass the pulse. But only "Peek-a-Boo!" and the fast-pumping "That's Good" are worth rooting out of the samey tracks here, and it's getting harder to take the whole Devo package — the dumbbell retrograde-evolution philosophy and all the promotional merchandise. Devo may have the best singer-to-synthesizer relationship of any band, but they're more interested in selling Boojie Boy to tater tots. Nobody should be able to stretch a spud joke out for this long. Except, maybe, Mr. Potato Head.
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