Strip Mall Originals
Okay, I plead guilty to a certain amount of stupidity and blind faith. I admit that the only reason I was interested in Har Mar Superstars’ self-titled debut is because of geography. You see, I am big fan of the Twin Cities, and I have a virtually uncritical love of all things Minnesotan. From Prince (who certainly deserves my loyalty and adoration) to the Minnesota Twins (who deserve neither my loyalty nor my adoration), I am card-carrying believer in all things remotely associated with the Twin Cities. Hell, I will even admit to kinda digging ex-wrestler and current governor Jessie Ventura, a sure sign if there ever was one that I have a propensity for pretty severe lapses of judgment when it comes to Minnesota. And since Har Mar is the name of a run-down ghetto-ized strip mall in St. Paul, and since brothers Martin and Sean Tillmann (the Har Mar Superstars themselves) are from St. Paul, I naively reasoned that Har Mar Superstars would be well worth the listen.
The problem is that despite my loyalty and my near-blind faith, Har Mar Superstars sucks. There are only so many ways to say it, and even their Twin City residency can’t save them from their own insipid, self-congratulatory, and straight up moronic lyrics. Boasting songs like “Baby, Do You Like My Clothes?” (which is every bit as ridiculous and pseudo/fake pimp as the title suggests) to “I Admit” (in which Martin Tillmann discusses his vasectomy and assures the listener that there are “no babies coming out of him,” something for which we should all be thankful) to “Girl, You’re Stupid” (‘nuff said), Har Mar Superstars are an experiment in futility, trying to cop some sort of street credibility that sounds like it was earned on Sesame Street, not the street that the Superstar bros. seem to be invoking.
Furthermore, their wannabe freestyling and R&B hooks are perhaps as tired as writing songs about penis size, and only slightly more mature. And indeed, in song after song, Har Mar Superstars treats us to missives on sexual potency and the wholly unworthy character of the women whose legs happen to be in the right place but the wrong time. Har Mar Superstars wouldn’t know a creative riff if it slapped them upside the head. Look, not all bands are designed to reinvent the wheel, and that’s cool. I mean, ‘N Sync doesn’t claim to be doing anything different from any other testosterone-challenged boy bands that preceded them, which is why they’re so damned lovable: they know their limits, and they know their place, and they stick to them. But Har Mar Superstars obviously fancy themselves innovators. They present their music as something new and exciting, when it is neither. They don’t seem to know that they are just another copy cat criminal, and they’re even half-way successful at convincing the listener. But don’t let them fool you. Even the never-inventive Will Smith regurgitates ‘70s disco grooves with more creativity than these guys, and their derivative and silly pompousness—SO unearned and undeserved—is tired by the second track. Har Mar Superstars is quite simply one of the very worst records I have listened to in recent memory—even Britney Spears interests me more.
So my dilemma has become clear: here’s this band from the Twin Cities (and a band on Kill Rock Stars no less, a label that normally does a stellar job at finding talented, kick-ass bands who would never get signed anywhere else), and they positively blow. What’s a girl to do? It’s enough to make me want to move to the suburbs and start shopping for newer, better strip malls. Which, in a way, makes sense, since Har Mar Superstars is the white-trash version of Border’s or Old Navy, desperately packaging the same old shit as something innovative and exciting. But even if you think of Har Mar as the item of the week, it would be wise to save your receipts. Cuz unfortunately, they have shitty strip malls even in Minnesota.
// Notes from the Road
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