2 December 2015

Def Leppard, by Def Leppard

When I was asked to review this album, I had to admit to myself that I am not the world’s biggest Leppard fan. But, being of open mind and of long bus journeys, I was eager to give it a go.

  1. ”Let's go” - “Do you really want to…”, a question asked before bursting into a old school Leppard song, quite reminiscent of “Pour some sugar on me”, all bombastic and confident, with a calm mid section in acoustic before smashing it out again with a rousing section of guitar and drums. It does almost descend into McBusted territory (or a bad cover with the lyrics), but saves itself. Do I really want to do this now..  Yes please.
  2. ”Dangerous” - Starts with a strong guitar and a defined drum support, getting you into the mood. However, it does sound very Def, so at this point, more of a re-hash than anything new. The (repetitive) chorus is straight out of the 80’s, so definitely playing to the crowd, bit a catchy tune nonetheless. It would perfectly suit a montage scene from an American teen comedy… hmmm.
  3. ”Man Enough” - Good bass start, and a sign of something different? Very clean and simple compared to the first two tracks, drums and the occasional guitar, though the run up to the chorus livens things up. The guitars are the highlights, and again, it's catchy. At times, it's almost bluesy, and overall, I like this track a lot.
  4. ”We Belong” - Slow, almost melancholy beginning, a complete contrast to track three. Here, we are heading into ballad territory. The chorus, where the song truly comes alive, puts it's heart on its sleeve. Yup, it's what you could pigeon hole as a love ballad. It's good, just a tad generic. Bon Jovi would probably do a cracking cover of it. (damning with faint praise here, me thinks).
  5. ”Invincible” - Good bass start, more lively, but still restrained. However, the chorus, ”I am invincible”, had me thinking of Alan Cummings’ character in Goldeneye. Now, I have the perfect Def Leppard/Bond promo video. Oh dear. Anyway, back to the song, it's uplifting but I kind of feel that this sort of thing has been done better by younger, poppier acts. (note to self, this is not a McBusted tribute review!!!)
  6. “Sea of Love” - This starts with a confident guitar rift and straight away, they are channelling ”Sweet Home Alabama”. Not that this is a bad thing, just not original. The chorus lifts it out of the tribute act vibe, and it does get funkier as the track goes along. Indeed, the back third is almost in Chilli Pepper territory. The guitar work is also good. I did find myself bopping to this one on the bus, so make of that what you will…
  7. ”Energized” - This starts slower than earlier tracks, quite a dirty, synthetic, slow beat that defines the lyrics. Again, I can't help but think this is heading back to early 90’s pop, with a bit of rock (maybe prog level Genesis mixed in there too). Overall though, not a bad song.
  8. ”All Time High” - Here we go, back to good old riffs and heavy drums. More traditional in style and lyrics, you can almost imagine the stage antics between each line. Old fashioned, yes, but there is nothing wrong with it as it is done very well. The guitar solo is well placed and it's quite a boppy little song. (really must stop that on the bus!)
  9. “Battle of my Own” - Acoustic is the name of this game, quite clean, clear notes, and the feeling they are pitching this for the unmade Young Guns 3 sequel. The distortion of the backing vocals works well, and the introduction of the strings and drums two thirds of the way in open up this song to its full potential. The finishing crescendo tops it off perfectly.
  10. ”Broke ‘n’ Brokenhearted” - Starts with a more traditional vibe, and a teeny one at that, another one for that American teen movie me thinks. Nothing wrong with it, and the key changes liven it up, but it's sounding a little generic.
  11. ”Forever Young” - This is an edgier track, challenging in its lyrics, with strident guitar chords breaking it up and building up the pace. Just a shame it seems to end too quickly. Literally.
  12. ”Last Dance” - We are back to acoustic, and a slow, sad song. Calling Mr Jovi… No, in all seriousness, it's a nice, gentle going track that has a certain sadness that is probably the best of the slower tracks on the album. Just a shame there was similar stuff out 20 years ago…
  13. ”Wings of an Angel” - Aha, back to the Leppard we know and love, rousing opening and a nice guitar solo opens to the lyrics (including writing’s on the wall. Make this a Bond song, it would be better than Sam Smith’s dirge). This song has everything that makes a Leppard track, the slower first half of the chorus, backed up by a powerful second half. It's shows verve and works well, the repeat leading to a nice guitar solo and the chorus again. I think this is my favourite track of the album.
  14. ”Blind Faith” - This last one starts slow, nice clean guitar work, and a slightly sad set of lyrics, that shout out that this is the end of the album. Nicely technical accompaniment of the lyrics, it is a great counterpoint to the first track of the album. It's does gets very Beattlesy when the strings come in,  but it's well grounded by the guitar work and the back end rocks it up for  a rousing finish.

Tonally, the album is a mix, fast, slow, energetic, melancholy. Technically, it's very good, but suffers in the originality department, like they are trying to appeal to old fans and trying to get new ones on board too. It may sound from the track reviews that I don't like this album much, but I really do. Ok, so it's not original, but it's well played and is well worth a listen, even if purists may not like the challenging style.

7. This is good and well worth a check

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