A hook-packed, skilfully produced guilty pleasure of a record.
Chris White 2009
It’s very hard to know whether to take Har Mar Superstar seriously or not. The St Paul, Minnesota native performs a sexually charged brand of raunchy, funky RnB and regularly strips down to his underpants while on stage; yet rather than being a heart throb a la Prince or Justin Timberlake, the man christened Sean Tillmann is in fact a short, flabby balding figure once memorably described as a cross between actor Jack Black and porn legend Ron Jeremy.
Despite his somewhat bizarre appearance, Har Mar certainly has a way with a tune that would guarantee him untold riches were he a Britney- or Beyoncé-style pop princess. Dark Touches is his first album in five years after a spell working on acting and scriptwriting projects, and it’s soon clear he’s lost none of his feel-good formula.
The record opens with Sunshine, a belting disco stomp boasting sultry strings and a Jamiroquai-like vocal, while Tall Boy, a club-friendly slice of dirty electro-pop strangely rejected by the aforementioned Ms Spears, retains its original lyrics written from a female perspective in Har Mar’s alpha male hands. Several other tracks on Dark Touches see its creator apparently possessed by the spirit of the mid-80s, with cheesy synthesisers coming to the fore on the early Pet Shop Boys-influenced Almond Joy and on Dope, Man, possibly the first ever musical tribute to New Edition’s Candy Girl.
Throughout, Har Mar yelps, croons and trills with great aplomb, maintaining his reputation as the premier stud on the block by asking women to sign contracts putting him next in line for a date on I Got Next, in which he also tastefully implores an unnamed lady to “let me taste your apple sauce”. Elsewhere, he extols the virtues of his “cute little cuticles”, informs a paramour that “when you sing, my nipples sting” and proclaims that “even gangsters want to cuddle me”. Admittedly this is hardly a level of poetic prowess likely to give Leonard Cohen sleepless nights, but it’s highly entertaining stuff nevertheless.
The nagging question remains – is this guy for real, or a more subtle, polished American version of Goldie Lookin Chain, intent on slyly mocking some of his country’s most popular musical genres? Either way, Dark Touches is a hook-packed, skilfully produced guilty pleasure of a record that it’s almost impossible not to enjoy.