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Aural Pleasure Review

Van Halen: 'A Different Kind of Truth'

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We can hardly expect A Different Kind of Truth — the first Van Halen album since brothers Eddie and Alex reunited with frontman David Lee Roth, released 40 years after the band's formation and 28 years after its last great record — to be either a mature reflection on the past (which nobody wanted anyway) or a true return to form. Two truths pervade the entire album: Eddie seems fully recovered from arthritis surgery, and Roth's voice has lost an octave or two. "She's the Woman" and "You and Your Blues" give Roth the chance to stretch a little, but nothing he does ever matches the "holy shit what year is it?" wonder of practically every one of Eddie's riffs here. Compensating for his diminished vocal abilities, Roth leads some of the album's most awesomely bizarre moments (the creepy-old-guy spoken word interlude on "The Trouble With Never," for example). Van Halen is running off old templates and even older discarded demos, but Truth sounds like too much work and too much fun to be considered a cash grab. As a 40-year-old band with Peter Pan problems, VH has given us the best we could reasonably have hoped for: some new songs we won't mind hearing while we're waiting for "Runnin' With the Devil."

★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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