DEF LEPPARD – Def Leppard
Given all the twists and turns this English band have taken from their hard rock roots to embracing modern and pop aspects, Def Leppard at this point in their career can chart their own course creatively. This self-titled studio album illustrates all facets of their abilities – the sparkling vocal harmonies, the undeniable guitar hooks, and this sense of exploration as they were one of the highlight machines of the 1980’s arena rock brigade.
"Let’s Go" has a lot of that Sunset Strip meets pop vocal harmonies that could have people up in arms – but wasn’t "Hysteria" in 1987 essentially the epitome of pop oriented hard rock back then? "Dangerous" is a mid-tempo rocker where Phil and Vivian get the chance to weave a lot of their guitar magic amidst the main hook. Bassist Rick Savage takes a little bit of the lead on the funkier "Man Enough" – certainly putting a nod to the band’s affinity for Queen as it’s got a similar vibe to their major hit "Another One Bites the Dust". Only three songs in and the band hook me – you will also get acoustic driven material like "Battle of My Own", two different ballads in "We Belong" (where all five members handle various vocal parts) and the stripped down "Last Dance", beyond the standard harder, driving tracks that make their mark.
A truly collaborative product as all five members participate in a variety of songwriting combinations, many will scoff at the fact that Joe Elliott is not hitting a lot of those high screams or holding out notes as he did on the "Pyromania" or "Hysteria" records. To that I say adapt and use the tools that you can- and it’s hard to dispute the aural catchiness when taking in the choruses for "Sea of Love" or "Forever Young". In the end, this record should slot in well for people who miss "Adrenalize" and accept a tip of the pop cap to the proceedings – brilliant and quintessential Def Leppard here.