While Mars keeps things artfully ambiguous, his suggestions of sex, drugs, and violence are alluring.
I’ve never synced up Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon with the movie Wizard of Oz, but I bet Charlie Mars has. Mars’ invitation to come over to his place and listen to that over-praised, piece of crap sound effects record is so warm, seductive, and friendly that it makes me want to accept his offer. The song “Listen to the Darkside” entices one to engage in behavior that maybe one otherwise wouldn’t, which typifies the temptations Mars makes manifest on the album as a whole. While he keeps things artfully ambiguous, his suggestions of sex, drugs, and violence are alluring. Mars does this by whispering his needs and making them seem like yours. He gently repeats his requests while the music drones and ripples behind him. The sophisticated musical arrangements reveal the devil in their details: the cymbal struck in martial time, the slithering bass solo, and the keyboard runs behind the melody. Mars’ urgencies arouse without building to a climax, so they don’t seem so naughty. He looks for the mercy more than release. The narrators of his songs know they’re sinning, but sinning rarely sounds this good.