Def Leppard's career arc has been steadily declining since the heady mid-Eighties heights of Pyromania and Hysteria. With Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, the band try to regain their earlier spirit, but mostly succeed in summoning up polite echoes of former glories, some not even their own: the strident "Hallucinate" could be by Bryan Adams, the arpeggiated guitar of "Gotta Let It Go" recalls "(Don't Fear) the Reaper", and "Come Undone" opens like some heavy metal alchemist's dream combination of "Kashmir" and "Freebird".
Less appealingly (though aptly), the ghosts of Mötley Crüe and Poison are hanging around their chippy critique of celebrity culture, "Bad Actress". The production offers a more brittle approximation of Mutt Lange's painstaking wall of sound, and although most of the album is given over to stainless-steel rockers forged from trusty metal clichés, the most notable track is "Love", an acoustic guitar-based piece that suddenly expands a few minutes in with Queen-style compressed harmonies and widdly guitars, like a self-inflating rubber dinghy.
Pick of the album: 'Love', 'Come Undone', 'Go'