[Album Review] “Euphoria” – Def Leppard

Euphoria - Def LeppardAlbum Title: Euphoria
Artist: Def Leppard
Year: 1999
Running Time: 51m 2s

Track listing: 1 Demolition Man; 2 Promises; 3 Back In Your Face; 4 Goodbye; 5 All Night; 6 Paper Sun; 7 It’s Only Love; 8 21st Century Sha La La La Girl; 9 To Be Alive; 10 Disintegrate; 11 Guilty; 12 Day After Day; 13 Kings of Oblivion

After flopping with 1996’s extremely brilliant “Slang”, Def Leppard returned to their roots in 1999. The template for “Euphoria” was an attempt to re-create the glory years of “Hysteria” and “Pyromania” while still sounding as relevant as possible. Back came the layered guitars and harmonies, the catchy choruses and the ‘deep and meaningless’ lyrics. I will admit that I went into this album with a very closed mind – I frankly didn’t expect much.

When you listen to album opener, ‘Demolition Man’, you can’t help but admire the fast, electric assault, the superb bridge and catchy chorus. ‘Promises’ slows things down a little, but again it’s catchy and likable stuff (‘I won’t make promises that I can’t keep/I won’t make promises that I don’t mean’) – hang on, isn’t this ‘just Photograph (remix)’!?

‘Back In Your Face’ is plain awful, an attempt to re-create the whole ‘Slang’/’Pour Some Sugar On Me’ effect but ‘All Night’, a 70s-funkrock throwback, is sexy,sassy and surprisingly genial. This was more single material than ‘Back In Your Face’.

You want ballads? We got ballads. ‘It’s Only Love’ is damn good, an acoustic-based love song with a beautiful chorus and the usual terrific harmonies (‘It’s only love so why is falling in it/the one thing that you can’t do/it’s only love then why am I hurting from it/it’s only love if you’re hurting too’). ‘To Be Alive’ comes up trumps as well with its “Hysteria”-style sound, engaging chorus and solid instrumentation. Finally, ‘Goodbye’ is just a little bit naff in comparison. It’s big-hair balladry without the invention that we’ve come to expect from Deflep – for example, it sounds similar to ‘Breathe a Sigh’ from “Slang” but just isn’t nearly as good.

But we’ve got other stuff too. ’21st Century Sha La La La Girl” looks like it should be a typo, but apparently it is the correct title. The song itself is a reasonable electro-rocker that doesn’t really stand out and again sounds too similar to ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ (stop doing this, Leps!). ‘Guilty’ is better, with shades of the song ‘Hysteria’ itself, ‘Day After Day’ an inspired number that borrows equally from “Hysteria” and “Slang” .

‘Kings of Oblivion’ is very much pulled from the “Pyromania” era, and you can almost see the guys structuring the album so that it included this homage to the more metal-sound of the early 80s. It’s not a bad track at all and the lyrics are a little better than most of the album, in fact they are very “Pyromania” as such. ‘Disintegrate’ is a pretty cool instrumental rock track that lets the guys let loose on a fun riff for a while.

Leaving the best until last. ‘Paper Sun’ is absolutely awesome. Little do you expect the wall of sound that is on its way when you hear the lone guitar chords that begin the track. The lyrics are a fine example of lyrical-imagery. Joe plays wonderfully with the bizzare image of the song when he sings ’cause you’re living on a paper sun/blind to all the damage done/living on a paper sun/waiting for the tide to turn’. The numerous solos from Phil and Viv are superb, the arrangement swings all over the place leaving you absolutely breathless at the end. It’s amongst one of the best tracks that they’ve written and lifts “Euphoria” from ‘good’ to ‘very good’.

There’s a few throwaway tracks here, but overall this is a surprisingly accomplished record. And no, I didn’t expect it.

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