[W]hen Har Mar Superstar announced his new album, Bye Bye 17 was due out April 23rd, I’ll admit I kind of brushed it off. Here’s the thing about Har Mar Superstar, he’s got this shtick. A dead ringer for Ron Jeremy, Sean Tillmann aka Har Mar Superstar is known for his outrageous onstage antics. Last time I saw him, he opened for Father John Misty and almost outstaged Misty himself. He stepped on stage and proceeded to shed a layer of clothing each time he played a song. Among his layers, he dropped a poncho as well as a Prince sweatshirt with the sleeves ripped of, until it was just Tillmann, in his cheetah print briefs, doing a handstand on stage while singing his R&B and pop tunes. I believe this was after he ran to the back of the room to dance on the bar, but before he downed the shots of jäger that a fan brought him on stage. I really can’t remember though. It all kind of blurs together.
Don’t get me wrong, his tunes are great. They’re upbeat dance tunes, but most of them have a novelty vibe. 2009’s Dark Touches features a track called Tall Boy, that sounds like a Ke$sha track. It includes the crisp sounds of popping a can of coke, with Tillmann’s quick talking lyrics: “I need
a tall boy to crack it open with me… I feel like drinking, so come on, get inside of me.”
When I finally got around to listening to the album, I was expecting much of the same. And I was immediately blown away. “HOLY CRAP THIS HAR MAR SUPERSTAR ALBUM!” I emailed Kyle. “It’s really good!” Sean Tillmann traded the shtick for soulful spunk. With plenty of organs, horns and doo-wop-y backup singers, Tillmann has crafted an album that truly showcases his soulful voice.
Lady You Shot Me, the lead single is a song penned from Sam Cooke’s alleged last words. The song begins as an accusatory lament before picking up speed at the opportunity of a second chance, “I’ll get back in line behind the other guys. If there’s a chance you’ll let me back into your heart.” With all of the soulful organ work and harmonizing background singers, it’s the perfect ode to Cooke.
The second track off the album is Prisoner which definitely has some of the attitude from Tillman’s previous work as he pleads the opening line, “put me to the test girl.” But the track is dripping with soul and horns that spike and
spiral around his vocals. This track truly showcases Tillman’s stellar voice. The slower Everywhere I’m Local is another stellar track, the heartbreak song that every album needs. And this one is executed perfectly. Another standout track is Restless Leg, which is a clap-along track that is as danceable as it is likeable. Spoiler alert: it’s both. “Another restless leg, a restless heart. A restless head ready to depart,” he sings in the chorus.
Whatever you do, don’t skip over the stellar and soulful album. It is by far Har Mar Superstar’s strongest work to date. And for those who were wondering, it’s been reported that Tillmann still does strip
down to his briefs at his live shows. But this time around, he starts in a suit. But this time around, you’ll likely remember his voice well beyond his gimmick.