Ever the Master of Ceremonial Schmaltz/Eddie Haskell/knave, Dave has wisely shifted his range down a tad (replicating the vocal histrionics of, say, On Fire, would draw-&-quarter the man's larynx), the band wisely culled over half the album from a few unused Gazzari's & Gene/WB demo chestnuts (plus 1984's Ripley, now the celebratory Blood and Fire) long known to us hardcores (the rip-n-tearing She's the Woman, the nut-kicking Bullethead), thankfully reworked a few others into more than just new titles (consider: tales of running from your lady friend's mean ole dad may work at 21, less so whilst in your 50s, so Big Trouble becomes the introspective Big River), & mined the same vein on the rest, wisely. Most work better than some undigested apple dumplings sadly missing that crucial slick lick, but fuck, can't win 'em all ask the Pats, & even if junior's grades ain't as great as Mad Anthony's in the harmony department, this is the brownest (if a smidgen too compressed) pop's recorded sound's been since, well, December 31, 1983.
&, oh, in case you wiseguys & gals forgot, the cat can motherfucking play. The songs & solos haven't been this punchy since, oh, guess. Songs, yes. A guitar mag wag once upon a time opined that Hot for Teacher is the double-stop riff Jimmy Page wished he wrote. Anything that good here? No, but then again, no one else has penned anything so unbreakable since. Eddie can rhythm & groove with the best, & Stay Frosty, Zeppelin & Ice Cream Man's beautiful love child, makes this fanboy squee with
Sodium chloride, eat it & smile. If Van Halen ain't your gig, ain't ever gonna be, & that's cool. Unless you're a mindless Beatlebot, we can still be friends. But if they are, please ignore the fact that I almost tossed off a fucking awful Jump-based pun right here & just go buy the better-than-expected thing right now.
One would be a fool if he/she/it didn't spend a goodly amount of his/her/its time ingesting the mind-altering substance that is musick. What else you gonna do, Be Serious? You ain't changing jack, & in your aorta of aortas, you know it. So jam on some Bach, indie pop, funeral doom, or this fresh (funny, innit?) batch of brash-n-roll, put down the grim (I kid), try not to kill anyone (except that one guy) & recognize that, for a moment (or forty-five), everything is indeed pretty fuckin' cool.