Def Leppard, self-titled, Mailboat Records,2015.
It’s been 7 years since 2008’s Songs from the Sparkle Lounge when Def Leppard last released a studio album. For a long time it seemed like it wouldn’t happen again. Then it seemed like a new album would happen sometime after the live album Mirrorball was released, but making a new album was a long, slow process for the British rockers. With that said, what does a Def Leppard album in this day and age sound like? After all the band has been known to aim for their classic sound again in the past (See Euphoria) and at times followed trends (See X). The band’s new self-titled album sounds like, well, Def Leppard. I know, shocker.
“Let’s go” is exactly how I pictured Def Leppard sounding in 2015. It’s something that will fit well next to their classics songs live. It’s catchy and it starts off the album in a convincing way.
Up next is “Dangerous” my favourite song on the album. The album peaked early for me as this song sees Def Lepp sounding rejuvenated with this full-on guitar attack. If I didn’t know better l’d think it was a young up and coming band at first, it only became clear who it was during the chorus.
I quite like bass heavy “Mad Enough”, it’s likely to be compared to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” but it’s different for Def Leppard and it’s surprising effective and dare I say, sexy.
“We Belong” sees all five members of the band sharing lead vocals -a first for them- in a very decent ballad. Def Lepp has done some incredible ballads in the past, but this one had a uniqueness factor going on with all the band’s voices sharing leads.
“Invincible” is a mid-paced rocker with very strong vocal work, I like this one very much.
“Sea of Love” sounds to me like Def Leppard’s “Sweet Home Alabama”, I can’t quite put my finger on the why.
“Energized” is a little too mainstream sounding and by the numbers for me. It sounds like their attempt at being current, except it would be better fitted for the X album.
“All Time High” is a little better but it’s not my cup of Leppard.
“Battle of My Own” has traces of The Beatles in the first part of the song and later echoes Led Zeppelin. It obviously pays tribute to these two bands, but you’d never imagine Def Leppard sounding like that.
“Broke ‘n’ Brokenhearted” wouldn’t have been out of place on Songs From The Sparkle Lounge. Excellent guitar playing that stands out.
“Forever Young” is on the right track but it’s also quite short at 2:22. “Last Dance” is a radio-friendly ballad. It’s ultimately pleasing although my first thought was that it would fit 2003-2009 Bon Jovi tremendously well.
“Wings of an Angel” is one of my favourite songs of the album, all the trademark signature Leppard bits are present. Joe Elliot sounds particularly good here. I’d like to see the band perform this one live.
“Blind Faith” is slow-building but it’s a grower that goes places. I don’t think it works terribly well in bringing the album to a close though.
It was great to hear the band pay tribute to some of their influences and l have to hand it to them, they explored a lot of new territory while doing so. Some songs are pure Def Leppard, some see the band pay homage and some just sound plain different. It’s hit and miss in regards to some of the songs, but there’s far more good than bad. It sounds cliché to say it grows on you with every listen, yet I find the saying more than appropriate here.
When I first listened a few songs grabbed me, but with repeated listens l found a lot to like. That’s not to say the album doesn’t have it’s flaws and low moments but the band can definitely still rock out and deliver solid songs.
“It was great to hear the band pay tribute to some of their influences and I have to hand it to them, they explored a lot of new territory while doing so.”
My main grippe is the number of songs. 14 songs might have been too big a serving. Everyone will have their favourites, but if they kept the length to about 9-10 songs it would have been a much tighter and concise effort, therefore better. Sometimes less is more.
Album of the year? Not quite. Dud? Nope. I don’t think it’s a five star, magnum opus release but they clearly put effort into it and l think just about any fan would find things to enjoy about this self-titled album. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s Def Leppard doing what they do in the 21st century and doing a darn good job at it. Some sound classic, some of it sounds new, some in the middle. For the most part is sounds just like it’s title implies. 3.5 stars out of 5.