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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Van Halen's A Different Kind of Truth: A First Listen

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 4:30 AM

Page 2 of 2

"The Trouble with Never"

With barely a break from the last song, they're still

turning out molten boogie molasses, with the first comprehensible David Lee

Roth lyrics in a few tracks and his most hilarious ad libs on the record, most

of which reference Alice in Wonderland and finish off one verse with oh-my-god "1-800-Tell-Me-Baby."

Singlehandedly made the 14-year-wait worth it. Less so: Roth's fake Leonard

Cohen monologue in the middle. Finishes with a good koan: "When was the last

time you had something for the first time?" Bad rhetoric for a reunion album, though.

"Outta Space"

"We outta space," get it? This one's fucking goofy, driving

as hell, with Roth wailing about galaxies like some strange combination of Axl

Rose and Nick Oliveri. Some tossed-off sparks from Eddie and severely weird

chord somersaults remind you that this band will never be generic.

"Stay Frosty"

Hilariously, they tribute their own "Ice Cream Man" from the

debut -- why not just name this Van Halen IV? It has a new

member and everything. In case you're unfamiliar, here's how it goes: Eddie

plays a quicksilver blues shuffle on acoustic, Dave knits a nonsense yarn (in

1977 it was Raekwon-esque ice cream entendres, in 2012 it, who knows,

references Buddhist monks and camels), then electric crazy crunching horns in

and gallops away with plenty of solos in between. Am I a bad fan if I prefer

this to the original?

"Big River"

Wolfgang's bass is Skrillex-level here: booming, blown-out,

and a little bent. It almost charges at you; think "Tramped Underfoot" if said

foot belonged to Brontosaurus on Four Loko. This is probably the first song on

the album one can imagine on the radio, even though the chorus is just the

title like "Tattoo"'s was. Eddie stays in the corners until it's time to finger-tap

his ass off. Good job, gentlemen.

"Beats Workin'"

Assholes. Except they really do work their asses off on this

one. Epic solos, full-month key changes, double-tracked Roth. Although they

really are lazy shits, too: Roth really never had to sing on this album, there

weren't any ballads or particularly melodic ones, and on top of that, maybe one

and a half songs served up a hook. They know rabid fans from 14 years ago will

take what they can get. Assholes. Beats workin'.


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