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