Seven years after their last record DEF LEPPARD has a new self-titled album out on Bludgeon Riffola and it’s not bad. On the contrary, it’s very good. Obviously with this band you know exactly what you’re getting, and that’s strong hooks, catchy choruses, and in general a fun time. This one has some hills and valleys, hits and misses, but mostly hits. I was excited to hear the new material after seeing them live in 2014 and being awestruck at how tight and crisp they still sound after all these years. Plus the concert was a great time, as I’m sure it will be when I see them in February.
The first two tracks and singles “Let’s Go” and “Dangerous” sound fresh off the boat from 1987, a time when hard rock and heavy metal ruled MTV and the world. They have also been played a ton since I bought the disc last weekend, with no end in sight. From here things get very interesting. For example, “Man Enough” has a funky bass groove courtesy of Rick Savage, but the song definitely sounds out of place stacked against the others. Hey, the band’s been around long enough to do whatever the hell they want, so I’m not judging. “We Belong” is terrific not only because it is in the vein of “Hysteria” or “Stand up (Kick Love Into Motion)” but also because all five members sing lead vocals on it. It’s a thing of beauty and I’d love to see them do it live.
Slick and polished is the best way to describe both “Invincible” and “Sea of Love” and not necessarily in a bad way. The poppier side of the band is fully evident on “Energized” and I’m sure all the ladies will dig it. Joe Elliott has that delivery that can still get them to swoon, make no mistake. For those of us who love it when guitarists Phil collen and Vivian Campbell throw down their signature riffs there are several rockers that will fill that need: “All Time High” is almost “Run Riot Part II” and arguably the heaviest tune on the disc, while “Broke ‘N’ Brokenhearted” and “Forever Young” fully embody that DEF LEPPARD sound we fell in love with all those years ago on Pyromania and Hysteria.
Bluesy acoustic guitars are on hand for “Battle of my Own”, one of the more ambitious tracks alongside “Wings of An Angel” and closer “Blind Faith.” Like I said before you can’t fault these guys for digging a little deeper and showing a different side of their collective personalities. “Last Dance” is a pretty little ditty with Elliott singing in a way that only he can do, conveying emotions like no one else can. Drummer Rick Allen’s tasteful and subdued percussion combined with the group’s lush harmonies made this an instant standout from jump.
At the end of the day no one is accusing DEF LEPPARD of trying to reinvent the wheel. But what they have done is give the fans an album that for the most part hits the mark. Maybe 14 songs was a bit much, but when it hits, it connects in all the right places. Not since Slang and Euphoria (two albums I LOVE!!) have I been this excited about one of their new releases. Glad to see the boys from Sheffield, England still have an album’s worth of good material left in them and I’m excited to hopefully hear four or five of these songs live on tour.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “We Belong”, “Let’s Go”, “Dangerous”, “Last Dance”, “All Time High”, “Energized”