When first presented with the Best Summer Ever by Har Mar Superstar, I was immediately intrigued by the enigmatic appeal of the press release… “We decided to produce it like it was my greatest hits from 1950 to 1985.” Har Mar Superstar, aka Sean Tillmann, uses his latest album as an exploration of self through impassioned melodies and lyrical artisan.
True to the album vision, Tillmann frolics through decades like a true time lord of sound. It’s all there, ’50s bubblegum pop, ’60s soul, ’70s lo-fi, and ’80s synth-fueled ballads, all the while managing to leave his mark with lo-fi frequencies, layering synths, and his signature voice spun into each style of the tracks.
The album’s opening track is actually a cover of Bobby Charles, I Hope. It’s a hauntingly beautiful cover that showcases Tillmann’s vocal range over mystical synths and slow-tempo beat that is a wonderful take on the original.
Youth Without Love perfectly encapsulates those summer vibes that we all love… It’s catchy, infectious, and makes you want to go out with your friends and dance to those carefree nights. Written by Tillmann’s good friend, Julian Casablancas, the track was actually a demo that Casablancas had “laying around” and Tillmann loved and mutually decided to add to Best Summer Ever.
Haircut is co-written by art-pop queen Karen O. It starts off with an organ playing… Insert church vibes here. Then it goes right into it with Tillmann’s voice cutting into it like melted butter on toast, “summer in the cityyyyyyy, someone’s got you looking pretty. Got your new haircut, hairdo is enough for every city boy and every city girl to look you up as you get down.” The song is a perfect marriage of voices between Tillman and O, perfect harmonies on a fun track that is about different haircuts throughout the decades. My personal fave part are the shout outs of the haircuts like Crewcut! High top fade! Jerry curl! Comb-over! Mohawk!
It was Only Dancing (Sex) is serving ’80s realness. It immediately transports me to a nightclub dripping with fluorescent neon-lit signs and girls with teased bangs stiff from Aquanet hairspray, beefy guys in tight Guess jeans and muscle shirts, leather clad cool people, lots of lycra, and plenty of dancing. The track is filled with synth-tacular layers, a sexy af saxophone, and plenty of breathy “sexxx” being sung that would make even Britney Spears jealous.
My Radiator is a low-fi wonder. It’s a short and sweet track about a radiator… Or is it?
Famous Last Words is brash and loud with a morbid appeal paired over The Clash-like guitar riffs and lo-fi frequencies. It’s macabre rock n roll at its best with lyrics like “mama I’m going away tonight. Tomorrow, yeah, tomorrow please tell me that you’ll be fine. Tomorrow at sunlight I won’t be here, oh mama please don’t cry.”
Confidence is the closing track, so it makes sense that is a ballad that gives the listener another inside look into Tillmann’s mind. It’s a track that EVERY PERSON can relate to (all genders, not just male or female but everyone). The track is relatable and hits home with lyrics like “can’t rely on myself sometimes, sometimes, I know, I know. To be open, to be honest, though I’m trying hard, I fear that words my confidence is just skin deep.”
Best Summer absolutely delivers on its namesake. It’s a soulful cocktail with plenty of fun beats, hypnotic dance rhythms, synth-fueled tracks, vulnerable ballads, and a twinge of raw melancholia. All in all, the summer party is on and we want to party with Har Mar Superstar.