It’s been seven years since Def Leppard’s last album, “Songs From the Sparkle Lounge”, and the musical landscape has continued to evolve at a bewildering rate in their absence. Things have changed for Def Leppard too, as their new eponymous album is their first without the support of Mercury Records.
Listening to their new album, you have to admit that not much else has changed. Def Leppard is a Def Leppard album on which Def Leppard sound exactly like Def Leppard. This is no bad thing as that’s exactly what Def Leppard fans want. As daft as that sounds, it’s also exactly what Def Leppard should be doing at this point in their career. Sure, they could be trying their best to sound young, vital and at the cutting edge of popular song, but they’re smart enough to realise that the majority of the time similar efforts by acts of a certain vintage just reek of desperation. Instead Def Leppard are better off relying on their traditional strengths and giving their audience what they want, which is highly-polished hard rock with big guitars and obvious choruses.
Def Leppard is an album where the band makes a concerted effort to remind everyone of their core strengths, and by and large it works. Sure, it probably won’t see them having big hit singles, but given how much the nature of the singles charts has changed since their heyday, how many traditional rock bands do have sizeable hit singles these days? By concentrating on just recording a Def Leppard album, the band are tapping into something which has been quietly happening under the radar over the last few years – Whisper it now, but classic rock is making something of a comeback.
Don’t believe me? Well take into account that 2015 has seen Thunder enjoy their highest charting album since the mid 90s, Europe’s last album charted here in the UK after years in the commercial wilderness and even a solo album by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull fame managed to crack the top 20 album chart last year. All the signs are there for Def Leppard to do really rather well in the charts with this self-titled offering, as long as they don’t try and convince anyone that they’re something that they aren’t, which Def Leppard doesn’t. Even the artwork evokes their best sellers
Def Leppard is a solid album by a rock band who have been treading the boards for forty years. Sure, it perhaps isn’t as cohesive as some of their best-selling work, but it does seem they have made more of an effort to show their range. Yes, maybe it could have been edited down by ten minutes or so, so it was shorter and punchier, but that’s just my personal preference for the classic 45 minute album format, rather than a criticism. Def Leppard is Def Leppard being Def Leppard and that’s exactly what their fans want, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being crowd-pleasing.