Andrew Nielsen’s (aka Lars Horris, aka MC Lars) sophomore LPThis Gigantic Robot Kills is a strange and peculiar melding of old school hip hop, ska, techno and all sub genres of punk rock. The southern-California native and Stanford alum deems his comedic sonic concoction “post-punk laptop rap,” which is somewhat close to how it sounds and feel as Horris’s lyrics induces myriad chuckles over the course of 14 tracks. Inspired by the unlikely combination of emcee KRS-One and the master of parody, Weird Al Yankovich, Horris’s sharp-witted songwriting takes you into the realm of sardonic silliness as he lampoons what he hates to love and loves to hate about the left, right, and all wings in between of pop politics.
Continuing his string of releases over the last ten years, the 26-year-old’s production and sonic landscape is a melting pot mirroring the shuffled contents of iPods and the 21st century musical taste. His approach to melding ska, pop, punk, hip hop and techno—all from his laptop—keeps you guessing and giggling as he sings triumphant over-the-top choruses and rhymes verses and finishes punch lines with tongue firmly in his cheek.
He borrows Fugazi basslines on “No Logo” to mock the viral politics of anarchists who denounce brand logos. Then he fires funny verses at trendy elitist females on the pop-rock lampoon “Hipster Girl” while teaming up with Weird Al (an obvious influence he honestly admits) on “True Player For Real”. And it goes on from there. From bandmate messy bedrooms (“35 Laurel Drive”) and video gamer anthems (“O.G. Original Gamer”) and rebellious reflections on going green (“It’s Not Easy (Being Green)”), one by one, Horris clears the clip and fires off his post-modern comedic commentary at pop culture’s myriad addictions and faux fixations.
Glancing at the song titles, I assumed that some kind of humorfest was in-store. During the first listen, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to dismiss it or take it as the tongue-in-cheek satire that it is and accept the fact that it might grow on me if I gave it a chance. For an artist who’s played in punk rock bands and grew up feasting on a cornucopia of old school hip hop and rock in Southern California, Horris’s love for the slick lyric and snappy storytelling is front and center and fully entertaining in all its irreverent glory.
His only misstep, at times, is letting the parody overshadow moments of non-silly genuine emotion. Midway, amidst the stream of laughs and sarcasm, hides the serious, grievous, and lonely candor of ”Twenty-Three”. It’s a heartfelt and soulful electro lament during which MC Lars mourns the loss of his friend who committed suicide. That fact that the track seems out of place on the album makes it sink even deeper into your heart.
In the end, even though I fought it most of the way, This Gigantic Robot Kills grew on me. The laughs outweigh the few dismissible and cringing moments, and at the very least, MC Lars entertains and succeeds at pulling off the celebratory parody just like his heroes. And, like Weird Al or any pop culture parodying pro, if you over think what MC Lars is doing you’re really missing the point.
// Notes from the Road
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