In the ’80s, Def Leppard’s extravagant productions and power-rock anthems prompted a generation to empty its pockets and unzip its pants in pursuit of pop nirvana. But today’s listeners want more than cheap thrills and stomping sing-alongs. To comply, the band has stripped down its booming sound and expanded its musical vocabulary.
Sometimes it works, as on “Truth?,” an aggressive track with industrial overtones, and “Turn to Dust,” which blends cheeseball hooks with Middle Eastern melodies. But the dance beats and funk rhythms on the title track and “Breathe a Sigh” are strangely reminiscent of Prince and TLC, and with helium vocals and a few more synths, “Work It Out” might sound like Rush. Slang rarely rocks; Def Leppard seem too consumed with sounding hip to let loose any real dynamic guitar squalor. The band has lost its drive and focus, which may prompt some fans to ask, “Oh, I just gotta know if you’re really there and you really care.”