I've always been a huge fan of Def Leppard. Yes, I'm proud enough to say that I was there in the beginning (they were and still are younger than I am). So what should we make of the first studio album of original material in six years? Frankly, I think 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge' is great even though it will never rival the greats like 'High N Dry' (my personal favorite), Pyromania,' and 'Hysteria.' Yet, this is still not a lesser album by any means. The signature Def Leppard style is abundantly present: slick production, great vocals and vocal harmonies, massive melody, and terrific guitar work. On the final point, I would say that 'Sparkle Lounge' may be even better than the aforementioned albums simply because Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell are given freedom to rip.
I'm not going down the road of argument that attempts to verify Def Leppard's musical genre. Essentially, I find 'Sparkle Lounge' to be a rock and roll album above anything else. If you can live with that then you can mix in other categories as you wish. The music is edgy and bristling enough to be melodic metal, both soothing and coarse a times to be melodic hard rock, and versatile and experimental enough to have a touch modern rock. In the end, this is Def Leppard album that neither escapes the past nor rests in it. This a Def Leppard in the present and that's a good thing.
As for the select songs, two songs really stood out: the first single 'Nine Lives' cowritten with country singer Tim McGraw (don't hang your head; its quite good, a real rocker and Mr. McGraw helps out on vocals too) and 'Bad Actress,' a short romping rock and roll number with that deliberate Def Leppard satirical smile. Other satisfying and clever tunes include 'Tomorrow,' 'Come Undone,' and 'Cruise Control,' with its sharp political commentary.
Honestly, 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge' surprised me. I guess I was expecting 'X' again or something close to it. It seems exploring their past on 'Yeah' inspired Def Leppard to better creativity. Another good thing. If there is any flaw in this work it is that it is too short. But Def Leppard made up for it in substance. Yet, I was immensely entertained and satisfied with this new Def Leppard album. Highly recommended!
I really only want to say two words (but you know I'll say more): buy it! This is Def Leppard rocking hard with style, substance, and presence. It doesn't get much better than this. Great stuff!