DEVO caught a case of the sophomore slump after thier brilliant debut. "Duty Now For The Future" is a really good album that came after a perfect one, and it does shrivel in comparison. The DEVO eyes had turned from the sound of things falling apart to the machinery that made it go. Having used up most of their "conceptual" songs for the debut, we were served up musings on love work and death.
In part, the blame does rest on producer Ken Scott, who obviously didn't understand the band with anywhere near the depth that Brian Eno did. Where Eno might have encouraged brighter production in (for instance) "Swelling Itching Brain," Scott instead chose to make it murkier. That most of the songs here are great overcomes the cloudy sound, and "The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprise" is a DEVO hall of famer.
This is also the home of one of DEVO's best statement of purpose songs, the concert fave "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA." Declaring themselves to be "suburban robots to monitor reality," DEVO make the claim that they are here to protect both man and mutant, only to discover that Mr. DNA deems them fit to "sacrifice themselves so many others may live!" It also rocks harder than anything else DEVO ever recorded for the first part of their career. After this, the slick success of "Whip It" kind of tamed them...if you ever considered DEVO tamable.