Har Mar Superstar’s latest album, Best Summer Ever, doesn’t always have the fun vibes one would expect given the title. Listen to “How Did I Get Through the Day,” a ballad that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on AM radio 60 years ago, for example. “I’m all alone, watching the phone,” sings Sean Tillman, who performs under the name Har Mar Superstar. “But you ain’t coming home.”
The song’s longing feels perfectly at home on Best Summer Ever. Many of the tracks focus on departures and yearning, such as closing track “Confidence” and the synthesizer-driven version of Bobby Charles’ “I Hope.”
Yet maybe these songs aren’t in conflict with the album’s title. Summertime is fleeting, as is the youth with which summer fun is most commonly associated.
Tillman explained the name of the sixth Har Mar Superstar record, which was released last month, in a phone interview ahead of his May 15 appearance at Daytrotter’s Davenport venue. “It’s something I say when people ask me to take photos with a group of friends, or if people are toasting,” he said. “No matter what time of year, I always say, ‘Best summer ever.’”
There’s more to the title than just being a goofy refrain Tillman uses with friends: “Since the album’s also kind of melancholy at a lot of points, I think that it’s got a nice kind of haunting, weird, sad vibe as well.”