Unmistakeable. Distinctive from the very outset, Def Leppard’s eponymous new release (earMUSIC) starts off with Joe Elliott’s unambiguous voice asking “Do you really want to do this now?” over a quiet build before a slick guitar lick leads us into some stabbed power chords and album eleven is up and running in their own inimitable style.
Let’s get the obvious bits and bobs out the way first… No, it’s not as classic as Pyromania or Hysteria (Vertigo/Mercury) – it was never, ever going to be; that’s like expecting Metallica to hit the stardust and repeat Master of Puppets (Electra/Vertigo) – but, no, it’s not as saccharine as Adrenalize (Mercury/Bludgeon Riffola), and no, it’s certainly not boring, staid or irrelevant. In fact, it’s interesting how the electricity and energy courses through, with ‘Energized’ lyrically appropriate about how the band seem to have taken a shot in the arm.
Freed from the confines of pressures imposed by others, and without the pressure of writing to appease a label, the Leps got together to jam songs for an EP and ended with their walls down, letting the tide of creativity flow around them, and a whole album in their laps, with songs ‘We Belong’, ‘Let’s Go’ and in particular the excellent ‘Dangerous’ pure top grade Leppard. On top of the traditional Leppard fare that litters the album, ‘Sea of Love’ brings some playful blues, ‘Man Enough’ grooves in with a huge finger-clicking, neck-bobbing funking bass guurrrroove, ‘All Time High’ runs with the Boss and ‘Battle of my Own’ borrows from acoustic Zeppelin .
Relevance has become a redundant concept for bands and that Def Leppard are still going strong a full 35 years after their inception is testament to the fact that, even during creative lulls there is sufficient quality in the band to keep hundreds of thousands of fans engaged and along for the ride; this is a band that give lessons in every song in how to write hooks and, in their sleep, knock out better choruses than most other bands can dream of.
Yes, to a large extent, you know what you’re going to get, but in this case that’s not a bad thing. There will be detractors, and the album does, in true Leps style, tail off a bit towards the end before ‘Blind Faith’ closes things off with class and nods to The Beatles. But, hey facts, kids… Def Leppard is an hour of quality classic hard rock tunes, and the fact that you’re listening to the best Def Leppard album since their heyday nigh on thirty years ago, is more than enough.