Rating: *** 1/2
This review was originally posted on Pop Culture Beast on July 30th, 2017.
It’s been a while since Alice Cooper has released no frills, non-conceptual hard rock album. Alice’s last two projects, 2015’s Hollywood Vampires and 2011’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare, were both albums with a concept or a theme- with the former being an all star covers album and the latter being a sequel to Alice’s 1975 solo debut. Alice’s latest album, Paranormal, sees the shock rock icon going back to basics. While it isn’t a perfect album, Paranormal still features some kick ass rock music.
There are twelve new studio tracks on Paranormal. Some of the songs on here are infused with 1970s classic rock. This can be found on songs such as the organ-heavy “Fireball” and the glam rock hooks of “Private Public Breakdown.” The album’s lead single, “Paranoiac Personality,” is also worth noting- as it’s a sinister sounding rock tune with a killer plodding bass line. While Alice is known for writing some down-right scary tunes, the man’s sense of humor must also be acknowledged. Over the years, Alice has written some funny songs. The bluesy “Fallen in Love” can now be added to that list, as Alice exclaims “I’ve fallen in love and I can’t get up!”
Paranormal isn’t without its weaknesses. While long-time producer Bob Ezrin was at the helm for this album, the production here isn’t the best- which is to be expected with modern day audio mastering. There’s also this religious overtone/theme on a few songs, some of which I think are the weakest tracks on here. This includes the Southern rock influenced “Dynamite Road” and the jazzy “Holy Water.” Still, the album closes out nicely with three new songs featuring the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band. The band shows off their chops on the guitar heavy rocker “Rats” and the anthem-driven “You And All of Your Friends.” Strangely enough, my favorite of these songs is the R&B/doo-wop inspired “Genuine American Girl.” Not only is it my favorite of the songs featuring the original band but it’s also my favorite song on the album. This is yet another funny song from Alice, as he describes himself in all of his feminine glory. “I’m only 30 out of 50 shades of grey” sings Alice. “What do you say?”
For what it is, Paranormal is a decent album. It might not be one of his most consistent albums but you have to give Alice credit for trying to go back to basics. The album also comes with six live bonus tracks recorded last year in Columbus, Ohio. Speaking of touring, Alice will be on the road in support of the album. Alice has also stated that he will begin work next year on an all originals second album with the Hollywood Vampires super group. For time being, fans can listen to Paranormal.