For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

It would be nice to believe that the acronym formed by the title of Van Halen’s new, top-charting album was intended as a covert blow against censorship in America. Unfortunately, it’s far more likely that the punny name merely indicates VH’s love of the kind of bathroom talk that third graders think is funny. Such groups as Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and even Nelson have improved on the pop-metal tradition that Van Halen invented back in 1978, but the originators remain stuck in the past. Singer Sammy Hagar is still exploring the lecherous depths of middle-aged men, and — despite peacock displays of the monumental talents of guitar/keyboard genius Eddie Van Halen, who fills each song with spectacularly busy virtuoso guitar runs — For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge doesn’t contain even one mind-numbingly catchy melody. Only ”Top of the World” and ”The Dream Is Over” come close to working up a truly fist-thrusting chorus, and the gist of the latter — ”dream another dream, this dream is over” — may well be advice that Van Halen and their fans ought to take to heart. C

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
  • Music