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Album review: Har Mar Superstar - Dark Touches


(Dilettante Records)

Har Mar Superstar gets a lot of slag in the indie rock community. Every time his name is mentioned, it is shortly followed by a statement such as "I like the idea of Har Mar Superstar so much more than I actually like Har Mar Superstar." I have no idea exactly what that means, but I've heard it more often than I can remember. I guess the "idea" of Har Mar Superstar is a bit of a parody. A indie rock singer (Sean Tillman) from an indie rock band (Sean Na Na) taking on the guise and sound of a pop star to make music. It's a fun idea, but the music landscape has changed immensely since his turn of the century debut. Does poking fun at pop music still work? Look at what was popular back then, things like 'N Sync and Britney Spears. Now it's been replaced by Justin Timberlake and, uh, Britney Spears.

Har Mar still works because the pop music landscape hasn't changed much. One of the tracks on the new disc, "Tall Boy," was even co-written by Greg Kurstin, who has helped produce songs for Spears. The line between parody and pop star fade with Dark Touches, which it has been over the past few albums. The new album may merge this so much that it makes many indie fans a little uncomfortable. Much like his pop counterparts, Har Mar name drops himself on "Gangsters Want to Cuddle Me" and "Creative Juices," he gets guest rapper P.O.S. to aid him on "Game Night," and his voice is surprisingly angelic considering it's coming from a man who looks sort of like Ron Jeremy.

I can understand the indie world's hesitation to embrace Har Mar's alter ego. If they find themselves actually enjoying Dark Touches, they might have to admit a love of Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake as well. But don't dare look through their iPods, because chances are it's filled with more pop stuff than they'd ever admit. It's time for them to come out of the pop closet, and Har Mar Superstar's "Dark Touches" would be a great start.

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