You've got to bring it every night, if there's five people there
They could be the five that spark and ignite your whole career
Lars Attacks! is the seventh album released by MC Lars. It has fifteen songs and features a few guest artists such as KRS-One, Weerd Science, and Mac Lethal -- much less than the previous few Lars albums, which had a lot of guests on them. Lars wanted this album to have a "back to basics" vibe to it, meaning it's a bit more hip-hop oriented and features less of the punk influence that characterizes some of his other work.
Officially released on September 6, 2011, the name of the album (and the title track) is a reference to Tim Burton's sci-fi film, Mars Attacks!.
The track list as printed in the liner notes is:
- Going Back to Brooklyn Similar to the previous album, Lars opens with two catch-up songs about recent events. Just like before, they're both alright. This one is a bit more musically catchy, but doesn't have especially inspired lyrics.
- The Gospel of Hip-Hop Basically same story as the last song, but with better lyrics. I do think the "holy crap everything is worse than ever before!!" vibe is overdone, but I'd rather people exaggerate contemporary problems than ignore them, so it gets a tentative thumbs-up from me.
- Lars Attacks! Honestly, I don't get it. Is the image of Lars as an alien supposed to be really funny? I assume it is, but... I don't know, it just feels like a worse version of Space Game from The Graduate. Not the worst song, but for a title track it certainly could've been better.
- History's Greatest Assholes Kind of reminds me of Logan Whitehurst's "Me and the Snowman", but with infamous assholes instead of famous duos. It's pretty funny, though I wish it had a better chorus.
- Summer Camp Love (Is so in Tents) Here's where the album starts to pick up a bit, I think. This one is a love song about meeting a girl at summer camp, and has a really sweet chorus. It's a bit (okay, a lot) idealized and not exactly "real", but whatever. Another classic Lars song; I love it.
- Venomous Box Jellyfish Am I hearing some dubstep influence? Not an incredible song, but pretty cool nonetheless just for the basslines and distortion.
- Judas Priest More dubstep-ish stuff, and this time it has the lyrics and chorus to back it up. Oddly enough, the song also has a bit of screamo in it -- and I normally don't care for that genre, but it genuinely works here. It's used sparingly and effectively, I think. This one of the better songs on the album.
- How to Be an Indie Rapper The title sounds like it'd probably be a self-masturbatory ego trip, but it's actually a pretty inspiring song. The quote at the top of this writeup comes from one of Weerd Science's verses, and in my opinion it gets across a very important message for aspiring artists: if you're not willing to give your all and then some, you're not going to make it. Great song.
- Mike Russo Cut Your Hair Hilarious sequel to 35 Laurel Drive from This Gigantic Robot Kills, this time about how one of Lars's buddies needs to cut his hair. Nothing deep about it, just a catchy joke song. Mike's reaction at the end makes me laugh every time.
- Francis Bacon Slashed the Canvas This song is... okay I suppose. Seems to be about an overly dark and depressing girl who doesn't believe in God, which would be okay since she does sound genuinely obnoxious like the type of person who's "different" in the most empty, meaningless way possible, but then...
- Super Scope ...this song is about how great God is, so I'm not really eager to believe the judgement passed in the previous song. I'm mostly annoyed by this song and the previous one. Keep being "real" all you want, Lars, I'm not going to keep buying your albums if you start making crap religious songs into one of your "things". Ick.
- Art of Darkness A song about drugs and creativity. Pretty good, not much to say.
- Make a Friend on 27th Street The lyrics are about cartoon characters coming to life, but it's nowhere near as interesting as it sounds. It's mostly just boring and repetitive.
- The Giving Tree I think this is the best song on the album. It's a big metaphor about a tree that a kid swings on as a child, then forgets about as he gets older and has kids and starts working in an office building, and so on. Really good, powerful lyrics.
- Annabel Lee R.I.P. In keeping with the tradition of songs like Ahab and Hey There Ophelia, this is another rap about literature, specifically Edgar Allan Poe and Annabel Lee. It's probably my least favourite of the three "lit-hop" songs, but it's not bad either. I'm not sure why Lars decided to end the album with it, though -- seems like the previous song would have fit better, being more down to Earth and whatnot. Doesn't really matter though, it's not like this is a concept album.
Overall, this album reminds me of the Let It Be album from The Beatles, in the sense that it's spawned from a musician trying to "return to form" and emulate their older work when I'm more of a fan of their newer work. I am not a particular fan of hip-hop or rap, believe it or not; it was the punk influence that drew me to MC Lars to begin with. Still, Lars Attacks! isn't bad by any stretch -- it still has some good subject matter in it, and lives up to Lars's usual standard of humour, topicality, and honesty. It's not as good as The Graduate or This Gigantic Robot Kills, but it's not bad either; I have an autographed copy of the CD and I'm glad to have it in my collection.
If you like indie rap or nerdcore, check it out. It's worth a listen.