By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
After a nearly five-year break between albums and a two-year hiatus, LAZËR, Fort Worth's self-professed "favorite sons of Rhineland," have finally gotten around to recording a sophomore album. And with a title like Twatobahn, the duo of Hammel Heinrich and Briso leave little to the imagination this time around.
Rarely does an album find itself so adroitly straddling the border between cleverly executed hip-hop comedy and full-blown novelty rap, but that tenuous ground—most recently navigated by SNL cast member Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island comedy troupe on their 2009 album Incredibad—is precisely where LAZËR find themselves with their latest disc. While the band's overall sound, a sort of Kraftwerk-meets-Run DMC synthesis, leans slightly more toward hip-hop than the hackneyed techno of the group's 2005 Let Me Dance You, the lyrical content on Twatobahn rarely strays far from the hyper-sexual, ultra-violent territory listeners have come to expect from the group.
In anyone else's hands, songs like "(Shut Up &) Dance Girl," with its European-influenced melody and vocals delivered in thick East-German accents, would come off as silly. But LAZËR's deft commentary on the parallels between the rampant misogyny and aggression prevalent in today's hip-hop culture and the brand of radical fascism present in 1930s Germany makes it apparent that something much more shrewd is at play—even if it's hidden behind some good old-fashioned dick and fart jokes.
For all the samples, well-timed drops, nods to old-school hip-hop and jabs at European culture, about the only thing Twatobahn lacks is subtlety. Take, for instance, album standout "Honey Beez," which begins with the following exchange: "Girls!/Bees!/Metaphors!/Girls is bees!/Get it? It's clever." On some level, we guess it kind of is.