Album review

Def Leppard : X

Def Leppard : XThere are no bad Def Leppard albums - despite what the press often say - just varying degrees of how damn good they are. On a bad day, the very least you'll get is a fistful of good songs with great production . . . it's just that you can't always remember the titles. On a good day, you'll get great songs with great production and you won't ever bother skipping a track to get to the good stuff.
    Today? Today is an hysterical day - in a Hysteria kind of fashion. Fantastic songs and production, and not only will you not be skipping any tracks, you won't be able to get it off the player or out of your head. It's true. It's damn true. Def Leppard have come up with their best body of work since Hysteria - the unstoppable album that will forever define their career.
    The only stumbling block for the media appears to be that X isn't Hysteria, but that was then and this is now. Should we expect another Hysteria? Not sure, but it seems as though we all do. You can't fault X for its mindset though; the band have put any trauma firmly behind them now and this is quite tellingly their first album proper after the recovery.

So, no more bandying around of the H word, let's just stick to the X word. The single Now is the most obvious place to start - being as how it's the first track - and with Marty Fredericksen (of Aerosmith notoriety) on board, it sets a benchmark for the overall tone of the album. Oh yeah . . . and it's a great song! Layers of vocals abound, and with those customary acoustic overtones that are as noticeable as the batsignal, Leppard have done themselves the power of good by dropping this track at the beginning.
    What follows seems to be an exorcism of sorts. X is actually moving away from the style of past albums. Where it might seem overladen with ballads sometimes, repeated listening proves that not to be the case. Go check out the first two Mott The Hoople albums to see what I mean. This is where Def Leppard's real strength is; in tapping all that was real about the UK in the seventies and giving it a big US gloss. Torn To Shreds is a huge song, watch it blossom as time goes by.
    Scar, the closing track (depending which version of the album you have) really begs for a single release sometime in the future. Other than Now and Scar, Four Letter Word and Long Way To Go are the definitive Lep tracks. With Unbelievable staking it's claim as a contender after a few listens, X certainly moves it's goalposts around.

And that, my friends, is what will make this album a winner. No flash in the pan, no ten million sales off the bat - instead a steady ride that equals the sum of its parts. Time will see it spend a long, long time on the chart - it really is an album you will live with rather than rock into the ground.
    Just one question though: Where's the fucking radio play when you need it?

:: Sion Smith

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