Not many artists are doing what Alice Cooper is doing at his age of 69. With a career spanning over five decades dating all the way back to the 1960s, Cooper basically has nothing to prove anymore. Whether he was solo or with his bandmates, Cooper nonetheless has revolutionized the heavy metal genre by incorporating the “shock rock” element to performing. His music has always been a representation of that, and without him, the metal genre may not have turned out the way it did.
Now in 2017, Cooper is still trying to stay relevant with his 27th studio project, Paranormal. While his best years seem to be behind him, Cooper continues to bring urgency on this album with his unique raspy voice.
Lyrically, I think Alice was on point for a lot of these tracks, specifically in the first half of the record. Although he’s known for his outlandish style of performing, I appreciate the fact that even forty years later, Cooper still wants to say something meaningful. For example, on the second track “Dead Flies,” he brings this apocalyptic nature to his lyrics, and basically lists all of the things that we should be wary about in our world that we live in today. I especially love the lyric, “And your phone knows more about you, than your daddy and mother.” The entire song is probably his most lyrically dense and thoughtful on the project.
Cooper brings a good deal of nostalgia to his music as well, and you could definitely notice the variety of different decades that Cooper incorporates within each single. While this can be good, I felt like that at some points it was a detriment to the album. Tracks like “Genuine American Girl” and “Private Public Breakdown” have 70s and 80s written all over them, and the production and guitar riffs on both of these tunes feels really outdated.
However, I do think that there are some real highlights sprinkled throughout the project. I really enjoy the apocalyptic theme that continues on multiple songs especially on the haunting, “Fireball.” The title track really kicks off the album with a bang. I love the wintry guitar riff in the first twenty or so seconds leading into Cooper’s eerie voice and horror style lyrics. The solo in the middle is specifically stunning and the addition of Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover really enhances the aesthetic.
“Paranoiac Personality” is definitely a highlight on here as well. The tune is just too catchy to not get into. This is more of a personal song and Cooper opens up little bit with lyrics like, “Telling lies about me constantly/They follow me, I see them there, don’t they know/that feeds my paranoiac personality.” He’s really just informing everyone that he has enough wisdom where he can point out people’s bullshit (at least that’s my interpretation).
While the riff on “Fallen in Love” is very good, it sounds like it’s been done before countless number of times, and ultimately, the corniness really sticks out like a sore thumb especially within the lyrics. It’s a shame because I feel lyrically there was a lot of memorable moments littered throughout the project.
The track that really rubbed me the wrong way though was decidedly “Holy Water.” Cooper was trying to go Gospel on listeners and it totally took away from the overall theme and sound that was originally present on this album. It’s way too preachy for me, and I wish this really wasn’t included on the track list. Personally, I just thought that it didn’t fit right.
“The Sound of A” was probably my favorite single, because it had this wintry and dreamy vibe to the production and instrumentals that was only really present on the title track. For me, this was the most haunting and spooky single. I love the enduring chorus as well; “Meaningless noise is everybody’s toys.” I also think that it was one of the few times Cooper wasn’t trying to go full-on 80s. I kind of wish that this was the track he closed out with because I think it would have left a more emotional punch sonically. Instead he ends the album with the previously talked about “Genuine American Girl” and “You And All Your Friends.”
It’s important to note too that Cooper also added live performances from his greatest hits after the actual album. Tracks include, “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and “School’s Out.” I’m mixed on this because I’m not sure if I like the idea of including previous songs to enhance people’s interest in the project. It feels disingenuous.
Even so, I enjoyed the fact that Cooper still feels like he’s got something to say even at 69. At this point, him and his bandmates are really just making music for fun because they’ve already proved so much, and they’ve been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2011. While some of the instrumentation on Paranormal has been done to a tee before, lyrically and emotionally I think that there are some really nice moments here. It’s just too bad that no one is talking about Alice Cooper much anymore.