Saturday, May 19, 2012

VAN HALEN Album Review

Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth
Interscope, February 2012

I wasn’t too excited about the first Van Halen album with David Lee Roth in almost 20 years given the hit-or-miss output of the band and doubts about whether personality conflicts and generally bizarre recent behavior of the band members could be overcome. A Different Kind Of Truth surprised me with its overall quality, but I’ll say it again: shorter albums make for better albums. Save the subpar songs for B-sides, and release a 30–40 minute album that’s stripped of excesses and lame songs. Here, the best 8 or 9 songs would have make for a much better album. Things get off to a slow start with the incredibly weak lead single “Tattoo” (complete with its dated keyboards), and aside from “She’s The Woman”, the first five songs had me ready to write off the album. “Bullethead” rekindled my interest, and I was pleasantly surprised as my interest held for the rest of the album. There aren’t any great deviations from the classic Van Halen sound from the late 70s and early 80s, and credit must be given for some quality songs such as “As Is”, “Outta Space”, “Honeybabysweetiedoll”, and “The Trouble With Never”. Sure, the same fire that you heard upon initial listens of the first four albums isn’t there, but Eddie’s guitar work remains impressive and Roth puts in a decent effort. Roth’s vocals are layered in places to mimic the background vocals usually supplied by Michael Anthony to nice effect. I was most pleased that Eddie still does not layer rhythm guitar tracks under his solos, creating a loose, improvisational vibe that lends the songs an air of sounding live. Van Halen have succeeded in crafting an album that while not tops in their extensive catalog, holds its own and that is worthy of respect.

Van Halen performs tonight, Saturday, May 19 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with support from Kool & The Gang.

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