It’s obvious that Def Leppard tries to compare themselves to The Beatles with the cover of their new album Songs From the Sparkle Lounge. One look and anyone who has paid attention to popular culture over the last 50 years will instantly see the similarities to the Beatle’s hugely important Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
That said, there are a few things the two groups have in common, and they mostly revolve around riches, fame, and nationality. What the two groups don’t share is a knack for experimentation and studio trickery – and that’s where Songs From the Sparkle Lounge is largely a bust.
Named after a room backstage that the band utilized on their last tour to write songs and warm up, Songs From the Sparkle Lounge continues a trend and change in sound that Def Leppard has been toying with for years. In addition, for the lengthy amount of time it takes Def Leppard to make a record, Songs From the Sparkle Lounge sounds like it was hastily thrown together.
Take the bands first single, “Nine Lives.” It has a great guitar riff that could really jump out at you. Instead, about ten seconds into the song, it becomes secondary to the band’s desire for experimentation. On this particular track, that experimentation includes having country music star Tim McGraw guest on the track. This is something that adds nothing to the song and might just be a play for the band to be better accepted on the festival circuit.
The next track, “C’mon C’mon,” finds the band trying to build a sing-along instead of just letting the song evolve into one on its own. It’s also where the band starts a lot of unnecessary hooting, hollering, and various strange noises that continue throughout the record and are more distracting than anything else.
A lot of Def Leppard’s mass appeal is the band’s great songwriting when it comes to ballads. Sadly, the albums lone ballad, “Love,” takes the right direction with its stripped down acoustic sound, but is ultimately forgetful when compared to the bands other masterful ballads like “Love Bites” and “Bringing on the Heartbreak.”
The one redeeming track on Songs From the Sparkle Lounge is “Bad Actress.” This is a great track that shows the hints of guitar rock and rawness that were once the bands greatest assets.
Overall, Songs From the Sparkle Lounge is probably a record that will fade away instead of rocketing up the charts. Either way, the band still puts on a hell of a live show and these songs will probably come off better live than on record because Def Leppard does have a knack for that as they have been proving for ages now.