Gay? is the recording that brought 12 Rods to the attention of Minneapolis listeners and into the offices of V2 Records. As a disc of studio demos and edits, Gay? is surprisingly even, balancing two songs that would eventually appear on 12 Rods' major-label debut with three equally worthy examples of the band's intriguing sound. 12 Rods breathes new life into Devo's brand of new wave, and Gay? documents a formative stage in the band's evolution, as the songs here hint at space-country, ambient synth textures, and jazzy, quiet storm-influenced adult contemporary. It's evident that the young band is still feeling its way around, however. Ryan Olcott's singing voice, which was noticeably tempered on future recordings, alternates between a nasal, robotic yelp and something akin to a record being played on too slow a speed. Also, the band's trademark lightning-fast stop/start breaks seem forced, as though they were an afterthought dropped into the mix by means of studio manipulation. While understandably rough when compared to 12 Rods' later work, Gay? is an interesting glimpse at a steadily developing, dynamic rock band with plenty to say, but some uncertainty about how to say it.
AllMusic Review by Bryan Carroll