Overall Score: 10/10 Character: 10/10 Nostalgia: 10/10 Instrumentals: 10/10 Pros: 27 albums and still going as strong as ever. Cons: The agonising 6-year wait since Welcome 2 My Nightmare.
Alice Cooper, rock and roll’s villain, appeals to the ‘Paranormal’ for his 27th album and summons his ethereal character’s extensive history to the table.
“I live in the absence of light,” cries the title track in his trademark foreboding fashion. It’s reflective of the 26 albums that came before this moment, a dark and treacherous journey worth every step in the end. ‘Paranormal’, just as every other Alice Cooper record, thrives on its versatility, and its ever-present vaude-villain. While his signature playful menace makes neat work of the introduction of semi-raps through ‘Dead Flies’, the Green Day vibe of ‘Fireball’ delivers devastating news over the intercom. A doomed southern adventure on ‘Dynamite Road’ ends in one of Alice’s favourite subjects – a rather costly car crash. You can’t choose who you fall in love with, even if you’re Alice Cooper, and ‘Fallen In Love’ documents the whole agonising process with an infectious swagger.
Continuing making his listeners nervous as well as fascinated, ‘Private Public Breakdown’ is a retrospective glance at the dark years Alice faced in his career, balanced out by his discovery of Christianity. This is by no means thrusting religion down your throat, however, its ethereal saving grace is kept in the undertones to an overall unhinged time period. Don’t let the easygoing intro of lead single ‘Paranoiac Personality’ deceive you, the lead single soon bursts with sassy character into an anthem as contagious as the ‘Hey Stoopid’ days. Bursting with theatrical energy, ‘Holy Water’ and ‘Rat’s bring back ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’s anarchic nature to offset the experimental low tones of ‘The Sound of A’, which wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Pretties For You’.
A second disc comprising of brand new tracks featuring the original Alice Cooper Group lineup and live recordings of classic tracks is just what ‘Paranormal’ needed to be wholly accessible to new fans. ‘Genuine American Girl’ showcases Alice Cooper’s gender-bending character that brought the band to the fore in the late 1960s. As if Glen Buxton was still here to witness this colossal reunion, the band sound as raw and passionate as ever. Burying the hatchet in style, ‘You and All of Your Friends’ is full of timeless character and truly celebrates the band that brought vaudeville to rock and roll.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Alice Cooper would run out of steam after hearing the familiar notes of ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ and ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ almost every night for the last 40 years, but each and every note is hit as beautifully as on record. ‘Only Women Bleed’ makes a poignant addition to the collection that’s just as relevant as ever, and on closing with an intense exhibition of ‘School’s Out’, it’s without doubt Alice Cooper can still blow things to pieces.
There’s not a single atom of innovative energy lost from Alice Cooper and ‘Paranormal’ is an incredible addition to such an illustrious career.
‘Paranormal’ is released on 28th July via earMusic.