Review Summary: Hard-working nerd gives his faithful listeners one of 2009's funnest, funniest and freshest.
When The Graduate hit in 2006, MC Lars was peering from the underground into mainstream culture (Hot Topic, scenesters, filesharing etc) with mic in hand and tounge in cheek. It all ended up being a wild success – so much so, that Lars Horris found himself on the road for two and a half years supporting it. Now, in 2009, it’s time for Lars to follow up on the success of “Download This Song”, “Signing Emo” et al. with a brand new studio album. This Gigantic Robot Kills
, impressively enough, smoothly surpasses its predecessor with and endless flow of inventiveness, creative beats and a handful of perfectly tessellating cameos.
Just as key tracks on The Graduate
served as more or less of a cultural time capsule, This Gigantic Robot Kills
features references to some of the bigger issues inbetween now and 2006. Lars takes a swipe at popular video games (“Guitar Hero Hero”, featuring Mr. Big’s Paul Gilbert), clueless indie snobs (the particularly hilarious “Hipster Girl”) and feeble attempts at environmentalism (“It’s Not Easy Being Green”, featuring nobody’s favourite Canadian, Pierre Bouvier of Simple Plan). Whilst the subject matter might be relatively recent, you definitely get the feel that these tracks won’t age as badly as, say, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Besides, they’re great fun and amidst the laughs, there’s a positive (albeit a little backhanded) message to be found.
Elsewhere, Horris tells tales of a variety of fascinating characters with his usual cheeky rhymes and relentless use of puns, quips and sneaky pop culture references. It is, ultimately, a playful and exciting musical adventure. Watch on with awe as a nineties ska kid takes over Orange County with a destructive robot in the slamming title track. Attempt to visualise the slums in which Lars finds himself when he visits his drummer’s house at “35 Laurel Drive”. Cheer as the “self-referential introduction song”, “True Player for Real”, blasts through your speakers lead by no-irony-intended accordion played by “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Whilst the bulk of Robot
is in the terrain of classic MC Lars, there’s one track in the middle that distances itself completely from not only the rest of the album, but the rest of Lars’ discography. “Twenty-Three” is a pensive, melancholy tale of an old college roommate who committed suicide. The song works as both a retelling of their friendship and as a direct communication to his old friend. “Suicide was an answer”, says Lars at his most vulnerable, “but it wasn’t the solution”. Perhaps the song’s most bittersweet moment is a sample of Lars testing his recording equipment with the friend in question – an honest, heartbreaking eulogy; this is miles away from anything Horris has tackled before. As a result, this song alone is essential listening.
The best thing about the music of MC Lars is that you don’t necessarily have to be into hip-hop to enjoy his music – it’s very easily enjoyable for music fans from various niches on account of its witty humour and broad array of musical backing (ranging from solo-filled rock & roll to Baltimore club sounds). But most importantly, it’s the fact that Lars Horris genuinely just seems like a nice guy with a lot on his mind – not to mention a clever way of putting it all. No matter what you’re into, This Gigantic Robot Kills
is highly recommended.