• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

Van Halen's 'A Different Kind Of Truth': What the Critics are Saying

Van Halen Press Conference - H 2011
Getty Images

Reviews are mostly positive for the band's studio reunion with original singer David Lee Roth, their first for Interscope Records.

A Different Kind Of Truth, the first new David Lee Roth-fronted Van Halen album in 28 years, debuted Tuesday, Feb. 7. The 13-track album -- their first since leaving Warner Bros. for Interscope after four decades on the label -- offers a little dose of nostalgia for those who fondly remember the Van Halen of yesteryear, circa 1984.

The title track of the album, “Tattoo,” has received mixed reviews, while other songs like “She’s The Woman” and “Big River” were re-worked from early demos of the band, lending themselves to more glowing responses.

VIDEO: Van Halen Deliver Showy Performance at Private L.A. Gig

David Lee Roth brought his signature vocals and kitschy style back to the band, joining forces with the ever-dexterous Eddie Van Halen on guitar, Alex Van Halen on drums and Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie’s son) on bass. Grammy award-winning producer John Shanks was enlisted to bring the Truth to the people. Reviews waver on the new approach to Van Halen in 2012, but one thing is clear: Roth is back.

Read what the critics are saying about Van Halen’s A Different Kind Of Truth below:

Consequence of Sound: “A number of fans will revel in Eddie’s killer licks, but the true hero here is Roth. It’s quite clear that the lanky frontman has been waiting for years to really let loose, and A Different Kind of Truth offers him plenty of opportunities. On ‘Stay Frosty,’ the proposed sequel to ‘Ice Cream Man,’ the bluesy track innately frames just what this reunion has accomplished. It’s that long-awaited chapter that finds Roth back on his island, holding his conch, and leading his incredibly fractured family – yet instead of lamenting, he’s partying like there’s no tomorrow... Essential Tracks: ‘Blood and Fire,’ ‘She’s the Woman,’ and ‘Big River’"

SPIN: ”A Different Kind of Truth doesn't duck either question. It's not perfect — it's too long by a third, David Lee Roth often sounds like a 2 A.M. drunk doing David Lee Roth at karaoke, and a Kinks cover wouldn't have killed them. But the album clearly aspires to both be part of the canon, and, if need be, serve as an entry point.”

The Chicago Tribune: “Roth, alongside guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen, doesn’t disappoint the fans by trying to mature or reinvent himself. The boys with crow’s feet and bum hips have made an album that speaks to the inner 16-year-old of their audience, re-creating a fantasyland defined by mullets, muscle cars and first visits to strip clubs… There’s one more ingredient that makes ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ an improvement over just about any Van Halen album of the last 25 years: Quirkiness.”

STORY: Inside Van Halen's New York City Club Show

The LA Times: “Looking at this record in purely financial terms: It’s got three works, ‘As Is,’ ‘Outta Space’ and ‘Big River’ that would warrant spending real money on. These could have been hits in the alternate universe in which Van Halen followed up ‘1984,’ not with the Sammy Hagar-helmed ‘5150’ but with the original lineup intact. Three others are halfway decent songs that might click at some point (‘You and Your Blues,’ ‘Bullethead,’ ‘Blood and Fire’), that you’d be advised to put in your queue for further reflection; a few harmless filler tracks; and three clunkers that the band should be reimbursing us for (‘Tattoo,’ ‘Beats Workin’,’ ‘Stay Frosty’). It’s actually a perfect rock record for the pick-and-choose era: a handful of good songs that you can buy without having to deal with the fat.”

The Washington Post: “Different Truth is keyed more towards the frenetic, adrenal whomp of the first two Van Halen albums than to the synthy Top 40 buzz of later hits such as ‘Jump.’ It’s a hard rock album with the flimsiest of melodic pop underpinnings, not, as was once the band’s wont, the other way around… The Van Halen brothers are still impossibly good at all the things they used to be good at, Roth slightly worse. His voice, once a gymnastic wonder, now seems morecomfortable on heavy numbers in lower registers, which, coincidentally or not, is where much of ‘Truth’ resides.”

Twitter: @sweetporkchop