The new Def Leppard album, on sale now via the medium of Classic Rock fanpack (other formats are available), has landed in stores in a cloud of Yorkshire glitter and glass shards. And although the glitter is proverbial, and the glass shards only on the cover art, the glossy, invigorated sentiment is quite real.
Maybe it’s Joe Elliott’s shimmering Loreal locks (because he’s worth it). Maybe it’s all those press-ups Phil Collen must do to maintain that gleaming torso (Phil, you’re in fabulous shape by anyone’s standards, but for godssake button up your shirt…). Or maybe it’s simply that they’ve had a bloody good time making this new record — their first in seven years — following 2008’s not-so-sparkly Songs From The Sparkle Lounge. Either way, Def Leppard is the sound of a genuinely revitalised band, bursting with catchy, mega-horsepower tunes. Coolness be damned. There’s fun to be had – big fun.
Not that it’s fun without substance. Anyone who’s heard Hysteria (1987) and Pyromania (1983) knows what serious business fun can be in the hands of Leppard on top form. The years have been kind to Elliott’s vocals, which sound great here. Guitar work is tight and peppered with flashy solo chops. Kraken-sized riffs in the likes of Dangerous are deliriously good fun. Wings Of An Angel creates contrast with a pensive, steel-eyed gaze. And with 14 tracks packed in (16 including bonuses) there’s no half-baked, ‘elder statesmen’ slowing down here.
Yes slowie We Belong is a bit drippy, and the disco-beating Man Enough sounds so like Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust you expect the cast of We Will Rock You to materialise. But who the hell cares? Def Leppard is the best thing they’ve done since those two aforementioned 80s greats; it doesn’t sound like a band about to pack in, but if they did it wouldn’t be a bad way to go.
Best enjoyed, in the words of fanpack editor Geoff Barton, “with a steak and kidney pie, fried to order.” Like we say, it wouldn’t be a bad way to go…