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DEF LEPPARD
X


Produced: Woodroffe, Frederiksen, Carlsson, Aldeheim

Released: July 24, 30 & August 6 / Website
Relatives: Slang, Euphoria, Adrenalize
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 98%

  1. Now
  2. Unbelievable
  3. You're So Beautiful
  4. Everyday
  5. Long, Long Way To Go
  6. Four Letter Word
  7. Torn To Shreds
  8. Love Don't Lie
  9. Gravity
  10. Cry
  11. Girl Like You
  12. Let Me Be The One
  13. Scar
  14. Kiss The Day*

Let's say it right up front - Def Leppard's X is their best album since Hysteria and is easily the most commercial record they have ever recorded.
I have changed several thoughts and views since my initial summary on the Newsdesk, so for the final verdict on the record and it's songs, read on...
I previously declared that X was Slang 2002 - with a dash of Euphoria and Adrenalize thrown in.
That's true, but isn't essentially the best description of the album.
X is all of the above, but essentially, this is just Def Leppard 2002. The album has parts of the bands last 4 albums all rolled together and baked in a new fresh essence.
On Slang the band tried to propel themselves too far into a direction that fans didn't were not comfortable with. On Euphoria, the Leps overcompensated, sending themselves back in time. Both albums were solid and enjoyable in their own right, but neither nailed it.
On X the guys nail it. Forget about the style, direction and tempo of this album - what makes this record is the songs. The songwriting on X is as good as any Leppard record to date. A lot of time has been put into the writing process and it shows.
X sees Def Leppard modernize their sound for the second time in their recording career, but this time they will not alienate as many fans - if any.
This is not Hysteria 2002 or Slang 2002 - this is Def Leppard 2002. The guys are now that little bit older and wiser and it shows in this record.
The first half of the album is the more laid back and best half, while the second half picks up the tempo with some more traditional Leppard rock n roll moments, but maybe isn't quite as strong.
Euphoria to X definitely is not the jump that Adrenalize to Slang was.
X utilizes production techniques and song styles that are relative to what some mainstream Top 40 acts have done in recent times and this is a modern record in that sense. A mellower Slang remains the album's closest relative - both stylistically and song wise, but there is also a fair serve of new Def Leppard here.
There's nothing as instantly obvious as the stadium rock anthem Promises, but the songs grow on you and demand repeat listens like their last 2 albums haven't. After 2 weeks of daily playback, I still want to hear the songs again. For me, Euphoria (as good as it was) did not have that kind of shelf life.
There aren't any overly alternative tracks like the heavy industrial sound of Slang's opening track Truth?, but there are some experimental Slang like moments, like the heavy chorus of Torn To Shreds, the dance-pop of Gravity and the heavy modern rocker Cry.
This is a far more matured Def Leppard. It's a mainly uptempo and free flowing album, but it's not an album driven by hard edged guitar.
This album has a far more polished approach. X sounds like it was largely written on acoustic guitars, as through the high-tech production and modern pop rock feel, a base of acoustic guitars can be heard on several tracks.
Above all, this is a very commercial album. The largely pop/melodic rock approach of the album and high quality of several commercial tracks suggests that X could see the Leps back in favor with radio programmers worldwide. There is at least 5 or 6 tracks that could comfortably fit on any radio format playlist.
Track by Track:
Now is an interesting way to start the album. An acoustic based track with a soft acoustic intro. A very commercial, very moody track that runs from an acoustic/high-tech/modern pop intro to a heavier modern rock chorus and then progressively heavier verses. Lots of effects, especially within the chorus, but still features acoustic base. No big hook to catch you first listen, but a very catchy song in the end.
From the moody first track, it's straight into a ballad for track 2. But not your average ballad, as Unbelievable is a mellow, but mostly mid-tempo feel good pop/rock ballad. Lots of vocal layers in the chorus that is very catchy. Another new side to the band, but similar to It's Only Love from Euphoria. The track was co-written with Swedish hit makers Andreas Carlsson and Per Aldeheim and demands radio play as it features several layers of effects and production add-ons, making it very commercial indeed. Did I mention that it's a great feel good song?!
You're So Beautiful is the first sign of a more traditional Def Leppard sound on the album. The track is again very laid back in the verse and acoustic drive, with typical Leppard guitar effects layered over the top - all in tune with the modern slick production techniques of the album as a whole. The very pop-ish track features a monster chorus. The two-part chorus lifts the song from 'sweet' to 'classic'. The first anthem of the album, with a killer hook.
Everyday is another track intro'd with acoustic guitars and Joe's distinctive raspy vocals. The song remains mid-tempo and evenly balanced with an acoustic base throughout. The song builds towards the chorus but doesn't go over the top. Rather it's a laid back chorus of sweet layered harmonies that really sinks it's hooks into your brain. A very catchy song with a very commercial and feel good approach. Another radio hit. Features a soft electric guitar solo.
Long, Long Way To Go is amazing. This track just gets better and better. This is a killer song...breathtaking. One of the band's best ever ballads. Acoustic, soft and gentle, with a chorus that soars sky high, while retaining all the required sentiment of the song. A monster if radio gets hold of it. I can see why an acoustic version of the song was recorded - looking forward to hearing it. Joe's emotional vocals rule this song. Hit, hit, hit!
Four Letter Word is traditional Leps here - straight off Adrenalize. If this song wasn't written back then, I'd be surprised, but in any regard, this is a mostly up-tempo anthem / party rocker, without being overly heavy. The verse features a Pyromania hard edged guitar sound, while the chorus is everything that the high-tech layered Leppard have ever been. Not the best chorus I have ever heard - maybe missing another hook - but gets better on repeated listens.
Don't think Torn To Shreds is a ballad! After 5-6 seconds it bursts into a big wall of modern rock guitars in the style/sound of Slang's Deliver Me and Turn To Dust. The guitars then vaporize and a soft acoustic ballad verse is played out. Then that chorus - bang! Huge! A big modern rock / semi-industrial style chorus with great hooks and layers of vocal harmonies! Catchy as hell and one of the more musically interesting tracks from the album and another possible hit single for rock radio. One of the more Slang like album tracks.
Love Don't Lie features Slang style effects and a modern rock production feel, but basically an acoustic/electric driven Leppard standard. Not bad, but following the last track a little flat and in need of a better hook. 30+ listens in and I rate this the weakest track of the album. Should have been the additional bonus track. The track that was relegated to the bonus track is 10 times better than this.
Gravity makes up for the lack of impact of the last track. This is a very cool track and again, is very commercial. This is another left of center track. The song is the most high-tech pop of the whole album. It's only 2 minutes 30 long and is chock full of synth-pop production effects. Similar in approach to that of the title track from Slang and All Night from Euphoria, but more effects and a stronger pop feel. Cool track with a heavier anthem chorus that could be all over any radio format. Short and sweet!
Cry is the most openly alternative and heavy modern rocker of the album. This Slang-like modern rocker has a strong heavy guitar sound. The chorus is different to say the least. Some familiar guitar sounds back in the mix, but generally very in your face and aggressive. I don't have songwriter credits yet, but this has to be written with Marti Frederiksen, as this sounds very close to a number of the heavier tracks from the last Aerosmith album Just Push Play, which Marti also co-wrote.
Girl Like You is similar to Love Don't Lie. Uptempo, traditional Leps, but with the Slang guitar sound and several synth-loops and effects. The song has a softer verse and notably heavier chorus. The verse is cool, but again in need of a stronger hook in the chorus.
Let Me Be The One is the only ballad of the second half of the album. The soft intro into this acoustic driven pop rock ballad gives way to a laid back chorus that features some detailed instrumental backing. Nothing new here and perhaps again, in need of a stronger chorus, but ultimately a good song. This is one track that I hope doesn't become a single, as it has been done many times before. The album features far more interesting and catchy single possibilities.
The North American version of the album finishes with Scar. Yes indeed, a fine way to end any album. This is a very very very cool track. A future classic amongst long time Leppard fans I think.
The song has the moody delivery of Slang, the drum sound of Hysteria/Adrenalize and a big anthem chorus that is typical of old school Def Leppard. Lots of layers and background harmonies. Close to the style/delivery of I Am Your Child from Euphoria. Gets better every listen and could be a rock radio single also.
The UK/Japan bonus track Kiss The Day is a heavy rocker with big dark and heavy sound, especially on the chorus, where things get super heavy. Shame it's not on every release of the album. It's a better track than Girl Like You and Love Don't Lie combined. The raw, hard drum sound mixed with a moody and heavy modern rock/Slang style chorus mixes well with the verse, which is largely laid back, featuring only the drums and a soft electric guitar.
Not Reviewed - The Japanese Bonus Track: Long Long Way To Go (Acoustic)
BOTTOM LINE: Just a great album. Great songs are the name of the game - each with it's own charm and variation to warrant repeat listens. I found that as things progressed different songs became favorites and as the album ran full circle, initial favourites returned.
The more commercial laid back first half of the album contains the best songs, but the second half well and truly holds it's own. I only found 2 tracks that weren't in line with the standards of the rest of the album, which means that this for me is their best album since Hysteria. In fact, I have little doubt that the overall fan reaction will rank the album in a similar fashion.
With the rigth promotion and strong radio chances for several songs, there is no reason why we won't be hearing a whole lot of Leppard over the coming months.
A special mention goes to the producers of this album. This extra time and effort with effects and layers has been well spent. Each listen reveals something new in the mix and will ensure that the lifespan of this album is a decent one.
The more tastefully implemented modern sound will allow the band to compete with today's Top 40 acts, without alienating any old fans.
PRODUCTION: 100% SONGS: 95% VIBE: 98%ATTITUDE: 98%
ESSENTIAL FOR: All Def Leppard fans and all fans of high-tech melodic rock.
DISCOGRAPHY:On Through The Night . High And Dry . Pyromania . Hysteria . Adrenalize . RetroActive . Vault . Slang . Euphoria . X



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