Van Halen - 5150 review


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Band: Van Halen
Album: 5150
Release date: March 1986

01. Good Enough
02. Why Can't This Be Love
03. Get Up
04. Dreams
05. Summer Nights
06. Best Of Both Worlds
07. Love Walks In
08. "5150"
09. Inside

"Hello baby!" you can hear the smile through the speakers as the era of Van Hagar makes its first steps. The cover art is apt; carrying the weight of expectation on their backs, Van Halen follow up the departure of Roth and the smash success of 1984 with 5150. Not only do the band carry the weight well, they manage to throw it off and stand tall in their own right; long live the Hagar era!

"Only time will tell if we stand the test of time"

So, does the album hold up twenty-four years later? Yes, not only does it stand the test it, passes with flying colours. Does Hagar make you pine for the departed Roth? Not really, he makes the spot his own (though some will always prefer Roth) and brings his own tools to the table.The band craft a solid album of songs that can stand toe to toe with much of what came before with what sounds like ease.

"Get Up" is a frantic four-and-a-half-minute race that puts you in the driver's seat as the song careens through twists and turns; between the mile-a-minute drumming (yes, if you are reminded of "Hot For Teacher", you're not alone) and the warped guitar, you will do well not to get whiplash on this drive. "Dreams" is a great mid-paced rocker that fits Hagar's voice like a glove, in between the keyboard and guitar work of Eddie that hook you in; "Dreams" is a highlight of the band, let alone the album. "Inside" has a hypnotic charm to it'; when Hagar asks "what kind of crap is this?", you find yourself agreeing with the question, before then finding yourself enchanted by a very Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall"-esque song. Rightly heralded as the best song on the album is "Why Can't This Be Love"; cheesy lyrics aside, it will grab you from the moment it kicks in and not let up until the song fades out.

The production work is solid, creating a sound that fits the songs perfectly. The album feels very futuristic yet very 80s at the same time, which is a fun touch. Everything sounds punchy and powerful and positioned such that while it stands apart it, can link up and support the music around it.

What the album lacks though is the guitar work of Eddie; while it is there, it is second fiddle to his keyboards for the most part. He is a fine keyboard player, but when you know what he is capable of you cannot help but feel like you're missing out on a talent. If Eddie were to bust the guitar more often on the album, it would be the complete package.

5150 is a strong statement of intent from the reborn Van Halen; clearly unfazed by the watching world, the band offer up an album that is not only quality but one that they sound like they had fun making.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 8

Written by omne metallum | 23.05.2020


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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