A huge disappointment from a legend of rock that was not necessary or required.
Legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper is back, but this time, it’s with less of an earthquake and more of a rumble. From the chords and beads used to the soloing and lyrical content, Paranormal is a time capsule of all the clichés in rock music; this isn’t a rock revival or a tribute, more of a mediocre album from the 80s.
The instrumentation feels similarly trapped in time, but to the credit of the musicians behind Cooper the technicality is there, the solos are good and the rock star’s unique voice powers through. One problem that also appears on the album – typical of older rock albums – is the bad drum recording. On most songs, the cymbals feel fuzzy and lack a sharp sound. The low ends don’t have the necessary punch and result in a flat sound, while the snare is almost as bad as Metallica’s St. Anger. The bass and guitar work are solid but repetitive, except for the solos that give occasional variety. Lyrically, the album ranges from occasionally interesting to cringe fests, perhaps highlighting Cooper’s age as he nears 70s. These are things that might have been acceptable a couple of decades ago, but now they sound awkward and at times plain wrong.
The opener of Paranormal is unpleasant to say the least; Cooper tries to create a ghost persona but instead achieves an uncomfortable sensation of being stalked in your own house by a crazy old man. ‘Paranoiac Personality’ feels flat both instrumentally and lyrically, lacking in the engagement that it should have to stir emotion. ‘The Sound of A’ is one of the better songs on the album, with a notably calm and smooth instrumental. The lyrics talk about the 4 chords of pop “infecting” the musical landscape to the point where music is basically just background noise to keep people sedated, more than an art form. A special mention goes to ‘Genuine American Girl’, which I want to crown this song as the cringiest song of 2017 (not the worst mind you). This first person description of the American girl by Alice Cooper creates the most awkward and unbelievable description of a person. The stand out lyrics are: “I’m every he-man’s fantasy” and “I am only 30 out of 50 shades of grey”.
This album answers a question that no one asked: “Do we need another album from a rock and roll legend with all the classics we already have?”. The answer is absolutely not. The best part of the album is the live performances of classics, which don’t have any of the production problems of the studio recorded new material. As much as I love rock music, this just feels unnecessary.
Paranormal is out now via earMUSIC