DEF LEPPARD "X"
1 Letter X out of 10
In the early days of the West, back when Def Leppard had pretty cool album covers, the peaceful town of Sniddler's Gulch was threatened by one of the meanest desparados of all time: Cowboy X, a man who left his mark everywhere. Well OK, the 'On Through The Night' cover was pretty cheesy, but so was everything in 1980 so we'll give the Leps a break. But can anyone deny that both Pyromania and Hysteria had unforgettable cover art; Adrenalize, Retroactive, and even Slang were well above average designs. However, Def Leppard album covers seemed to take a turn for the worse with 1999's 'Euphoria.' It looked like the designer had a little too much fun in Photoshop with the Lens Flare filter. And now this... Well, what can I say? It's a big white letter X. OK, this is the Lep's 10th album. Roman numberal 10, letter X, yeah I get it. I suppose it would stand out in a CD display at Wal-Mart, so I'll give it a point. But it gets zippo in the creative department. It looks like Cowboy X has just been through town!
Branding Irons out of 10
Angry Townspeople out of 10
Now = The first single and video from X. It sounds modern enough, and Phil Collen does some cool hammer-ons and pull-offs. This is one that Marti Frederiksen co-wrote.
Unbelieveable = This is the song written by those Swedish guys. Doesn't sound like a Leppard tune in the traditional sense: it sounds like Joe Elliot singing a Backstreet Boys song.
You're So Beautiful = Also written with Frederiksen, a near-rocker that sounds like something from the Adrenalize era. Just two or three thinning hairs away from being generic.
Everyday = Yet another Frederiksen-guided track, this is a mid-tempo thing that has a hint of Hysteria thrown in, but also reminds me a bit of their "Two Steps Behind" song that was on the Last Action Hero soundtrack.
Long, Long Way To Go = This is absolutely a ballad, and I generally hate ballads, but this is an exception. Well crafted, top musicianship and those layered harmonies that are the trademark of a Def Leppard tune. Wait, the songwriting credits go to Hector/Robson. Who the hell are those guys? Well, they get to keep the panties this time. Regardless of what genre you'd lump this tune into, "Long, Long Way To Go" is, in fact, a perfect song.
Four Letter Word = Pretty much the only straightforward rocker on the whole CD. A nod to Leppard's influences like T Rex, Sweet, and Mott the Hoople, this has a 70's style dirty rock vibe with up front vocals, gritty guitar, and a hook and chorus not unlike "Armageddon It" from the Hysteria album.
Torn To Shreds = Another mid-tempo rocker with big choruses and lots of layered guitar. Plus the Leps wrote this one all by themselves. An OK song but doesn't give me the cock-sniffles by any means.
Love Don't Lie = Also written independent of outside songwriters. Some funky rhythms, synth drums and samples give this otherwise typical Leppard song somewhat of a modern edge.
Gravity = Probably the least typical track on X, this song is way
experimental. It almost sounds like it could be a dance song - if nowhere
else, in some sad club in rural
Cry = It starts out almost like a Stone Temple Pilots song, but the chorus is damn annoying. Still, the guitar sound shows that Leppard is willing to branch out in different musical directions, including rock. Ha!
Girl Like You = Also written internally, this track is probably the coolest on the whole disc. Good sound, good hooks, and enough studio experimentation to let it fit into the 2002 technical rock scene. Be sure to check this one out.
Let Me Be The One = Another ballad. Not nearly as good as "Long, Long Way To Go," but not terrible either. A little too wistful. Reminds me of why I generally don't dig ballads.
Scar = The last and longest track on X, timing at just under 5 minutes, and co-written with longtime collaborator Pete Woodroffe. A slower rocker, but there's some elements that are reminiscent of ancient Def Leppard ala Pyromania, or even High 'n Dry. Lots of cool guitar riffs and long solos. Old school Lep heads might dig this one best.
So there you have it. A compromise on Def Leppard's part? Perhaps, but if they want to survive as anything but a nostalgia act, they'll do best to keep their sights focused on the future. Good for them for having the vision to move forward.
Comments: And the citizens of Sniddler's Gulch lived happily ever after, because they really weren't very smart.