Unsolicited Van Halen A Different Kind Of Truth Review
A Different Kind of Truth
A Different Kind of Truth is so unexpectedly driving, so utterly animated, and so unabashedly Van Halen it may actually make this band relevant again. At the very least, it will remind humankind how VH managed to conquer turntables and car stereos back when Apple Computers was considered a bigger joke than Scott Baio’s career. That is to say, this album is a two-sided coin of frisky heavy metal swing and keen pop sensibility that basically cloaks the median age of its creators (which is somewhere in the hundreds, I’m guessing).
Perhaps credit should go to Truth co-producer John Shanks, who counts amongst his knob-fiddling credentials such fresh, dewy starlets as Hilary Duff, Ashlee Simpson, Diana DeGarmo, and Kelly Clarkson. Maybe he carried/transmitted all their spunk to Van Halen like an airborne disease. Then again, consider the material on display itself: a number of the songs on A Different Kind of Truth have been reconstructed from unpolished b-sides dating back to this legendary group’s nascent years. Of course Van Halen reclaim their macho ’70s strut on “She’s The Woman”—it’s been locked away in a vault since then. Lazy? Maybe a smidge, but remember the last time VH tried to adapt to the times? Gary Cherone was involved, and the results hurt us all.
Only one front man in the galaxy could sell with any shred of honesty gimmick lyrics like “headless body in a topless bar!” and “you wanna be a monk, you gotta cook a lot of rice!”—walking orgasm David Lee Roth, who’s back on record with Van Halen after several millennia of drama. Roth’s vocal range plateaued long ago, but the guy can still coo, screech, and growl unlike any other pervert on the scene. He feigns some singing here and there, too, and that’s really all these bouncy sleaze nuggets need (apart from a touch of that backup vocal cotton candy Michael Anthony used to provide, recreated here to an acceptable degree).
The real surprise on A Different Kind of Truth concerns the Ferrari-like tempos the Van Halens achieve throughout the album. Guitar god Eddie and his rock solid drumming brother Alex haven’t lost their speedy synergy; the boys careen through a dense thicket of riffing on “China Town,” offer up an engine-revving classic in “Bullethead,” and remind you they invented the fractured hard rock template Mötley Crüe rode to infamy with “As Is” and “Outer Space.” The group’s noob, twenty-something bassist Wolfgang Van Halen (son of Eddie), not only keeps up with his elders but plays such buttery rhythms you’ll forget nepotism is the only thing keeping him from being stuck at home rockin’ his hairy nutsack.
And so it comes to pass: Van Halen loosen their Dockers and decide it is once again time for our nation to have a beer-soaked party featuring dogs in Hawaiian shirts and dump trucks full of double entendres. Yes, Eddie’s six string sorcery will make your jaw slack. Yes, “Diamond” Dave’s lyrics will make you roll your eyes as often as they make you smile. Yes, A Different Kind of Truth makes up for Van Halen III and every year these guys spent clawing each other in the press. A legitimately great Van Halen album in 2012? Maybe the world really is ending.
FINAL SCORE: Four headless bodies at a topless bar (out of four).