Sean Tillman, aka Har Mar Superstar, had a choice to make. After
2000’s self-titled debut and 2002’s You Can Feel
Me firmly established his shtick, Tillman was at a crossroads.
People had always laughed along with his act — a short,
stocky white guy in ridiculous outfits singing oversexed funk
songs. Of course, the act worked because Tillman seemed to take
himself seriously. Over the course of two albums, it was also
difficult to ignore that Tillman’s voice wasn’t all
that bad. After all, he had written tunes for Jennifer Lopez and
Kelly Osbourne. Could he tone down the cheeziness and make a truly
Maybe, but The Handler isn’t it. From the first song to
last, the album sounds like a collection of tracks left over from
the Justified recording session. Tillmann’s voice is shown to
be adequate here, but not capable of carrying any true depth of
emotion. Only a few songs on the record can be outright labeled as
jokes, including “D.U.I.,” Har Mar’s poetic and
inspired treatment of an issue plaguing millions of young people
across our nation: drunk dialing. Meanwhile, “Body
Request” sounds like the song that helps the nerds win the
talent show the end of the “Revenge of the Nerds,”
it’s corny ‘80s synth-pop to the core.
Most of the album dabbles in the “you know I’m being
ironic even though nothing in the music suggests it” type of
humor, which only makes it more annoying. When so much of your
selling point is the visual aspect, what’s really the purpose
of making a record?
Taking that into consideration, criticizing this guy feels a
little pointless. Even though he has toned down the blatancy of the
persona on this record, Har Mar Superstar is still a joke, albeit
one that’s getting progressively stale. The problem is, and
the reason why he should be up for review, that the guy
doesn’t really write jokes, like his musical-comedian
counterparts Tenacious D. His music is all a part of the act and
straddling the line between the ridiculousness of it all and the
straight face he keeps is the essence of the act.
On The Handler, Tillman fails to pull it off. While the idea of
seeing Har Mar live, gyrating and surely grating, might still be
appealing to some, there’s no need for more recorded output
from this guy.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.