Def Leppard released their self-titled album Def Leppard on October 30 – the band’s first studio album in seven years and first new material since a handful of songs put on 2011’s live record Mirror Ball.
The 14 song collection lasts about 55 minutes and indeed showcases who and what Def Leppard is but also delivers on singer Joe Elliott’s promise that it’s got a bit of everything and doesn’t get stuck in a specific era of Def Leppard albums.
It’s a rather strong album and in many respects is quite refreshing that a veteran act that started 30-something years ago with now 50-something year old band members rises above so much of today’s muck and brings a clear focus to excellent song writing, catchy riffs, great power chords and memorable melodies.
The band doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the first tract “Let’s Go” sounds a bit like their smash hit “Pour Some Sugar on Me” because it does. Not exactly but the structure and guitar chords certainly reflect their most famous song. “Let’s Go” introduced the public to the new record in September and is totally Dep Leppard but gets bogged down near the end, lasts a bit too long, and doesn’t even compete for best album song.
However, the following song “Dangerous” certainly ranks as one of the best cuts and in fact this song rules. It’s high energy, totally 80s and classic Def Leppard.
A hard core turn comes next with “Man Enough” a song that taps into the band’s inner Queen and sounds nothing like they’ve ever done before. It’s got a great opening Rick Savage bass line that resonates throughout and after a few listens expect this to get stuck in your head.
If their ballads from the mid-1980s remain relevant today then add “We Belong” to the mix because this is exactly why the ladies come out in droves. You’re all that I am/You’re all that I see/The Keys to the kingdom waiting for me. Yeah, guys can step aside; the women will sop this one up. Add in vocal duties by guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell and Def Leppard just added another element to their repertoire. Another ode to the ladies follows with “Invincible” but with a little more rock flare.
“Sea of Love” again changes the band’s direction and brings a little bit of everything. It’s got dynamic vocals from Elliott and some crushing guitar chords brought to you by Collen and Campbell who trade back and forth all album long just like they’ve done now for nearly 25 years. “Energized” marks the halfway point and is one of those songs that sounds like Def Leppard but it doesn’t.
Hard driving rock introduces “All Time High” before the song melts into a more modern rock persona and “Battle of my Own” starts off with the acoustics before the band opens up nearly two minutes in. “Broke ‘n’ Brokenhearted” finds the Def Leppard we all know and love with a classic chorus hook. “Forever Young” isn’t a bad song it just doesn’t stand out much and gets lost because the final three cuts bring the album home.
Certainly somewhere a father/daughter dance opened to a Def Leppard song but the country infused “Last Dance” is certain to be played at weddings in the future. It’s more ballad than ballad if you can believe that and might not please the hard rockers but is thoughtful and so well written musically and check out these pretty moving lyrics: Do you remember when we used to dance/Lighting up the universe, living life for what it’s worth/Took a chance.
“Wings of an Angel” puts an end to the slow stuff immediately with some slamming guitars at the front and competes with anything on radio today. Will it translate into a crossover from the band’s oft played 80s hits on classic rock radio? No, but their loss. Finally, “Blind Faith” keeps the modern rock touch with Elliott showing as much vocal range as he’s done on any album.
Not a junker in the whole lot and any one could benefit from the live treatment. Does it measure up to the iconic Hysteria or Pyromania? Nothing ever will, which seems to be the point. Each album stands on its own. So does Def Leppard. Reflection is nice but stands in the way of progress, something Def Leppard worked into this eponymous record.
Def Leppard clearly took their time in producing Def Leppard and based on their commitment and comments about the album, it’s one they are proud of. Hopefully they’ll prove as much next year and showcase the tour around this accomplishment rather than what’s heard every single day on radio and on the last couple of road trips.
Tract List for Def Leppard:
- Let’s Go
- Man Enough
- We Belong
- Sea Of Love
- All Time High
- Battle Of My Own
- Broke ‘N’ Brokenhearted
- Forever Young
- Last Dance
- Wings Of An Angel
- Blind Faith