Review Summary: Fun, straight-up party album. The kind of stuff you can blare on your car stereo - dumb, but catchy.
You can say a lot of negative things about Alice Cooper: that he's sold out (American Idol), that he's compromised his artistic integrity (Trash
), that he's not trying anymore (Along Came A Spider
), but one cannot deny, Cooper can write in any style he wants. From silly, testosterone-driven hair metal of the 80s and 90s, to the crunchy industrial rock of Brutal Planet
. And so, with Cooper's 2003 effort, The Eyes of Alice Cooper
, the King of Shock Rock decides to return to his roots, with catchy garage rock with a few dashes of horror. The result is enjoyable, although it only has one or two songs that could be considered classics.
First off, the album sounds great. The mixing is perfect: the guitars are loud, the drums are pounding, and the vocals are never too quiet. It's the kind of mindless stuff you can just blare in your car or at a party.
The album kicks off with the straight-up rocker "What Do You Want From Me", an excellent head-banger with fun lyrics about a guy who just cannot please his white trash girl. "Between High School and Old School" talks about Cooper's dilemma as an 18-year-old trapped in an old man's body.
"Man of the Year" is rather shocking; Cooper sounds like a punk-rock singer, his vocals surprisingly youthful, but still with that sardonic sneer that we've come to love. The lyrics are hilariously tragic, about the perfect man from the perfect family who is perfectly miserable, and has the perfect way out: suicide. Definitely one of the album's highlights. I have to wonder how much studio wizardry went into this one, though, because I've heard audios of him singing this one live, and he can never match the smooth vocals that he has here.
"Novocaine" is another stand-out, more so than the previous track. This one sounds like a refugee from the Alice Cooper Band, a twisted love song about being in a relationship and not feeling anything, just like being injected with Novocaine.
"Bye Bye Baby" is a fun, fast-paced rocker with great musical arrangements. "Be With You Awhile" is an almost Beatles-like ballad, which shows the tender side of the Alice Cooper character. I can't see him ever playing this one in concert. "Detroit City" has a great opening rift, and lyrics about the Detroit rock scene.
"This House is Haunted" has a Danny Elfman/Tim Burton feel to it - and no, for once, that's not a bad comparison. This one is the other classic of the album, a love song about a man and his lost love. It starts out soft, breaks into a rocking, loud interlude - I'd recommend not turning the volume up on this one, because the guitars kick up out of nowhere. It's creepy, ethereal, and shows Cooper returning to his horror roots.
"Love Should Never Feel Like This" and the "Song That Doesn't Rhyme" sound like Cooper was running out of ideas. They're fine songs, but if I were producing the album, I'd probably leave them on the cutting room floor, or save them for some bonus track compilation. There's nothing special about them. "I'm So Angry" sounds like it might have been made for Brutal Planet
. Fast-paced, aggressive (as the title implies), and down-right fun. This style continues into the final track, "Backyard Brawl," which isn't really that remarkable, but listenable all the same, and shows Born-Again Cooper swearing (albeit with bleeps.)
I think Cooper fans and fans of modern rock alike can find at least one likeable song here. Long-time Cooper fans might be disappointed, but when an artist has been around for as long as Cooper has, you'll always have fans that can't be pleased.