Sean Tillman has enough musical personalities to make Sybil recommend her therapist. Tillman came to wide attention in the mid-'90s with his Minneapolis-based noise-pop combo Calvin Krime, which ultimately disbanded and led to his solo persona Sean Na Na. After a handful of singles and a widely praised split EP with Mary Lou Lord, Tillman unleashed a pair of wonders on Troubleman in 2000 (the full-length Dance Til Your Baby Is a Man and the "Return of the Unicorn" EP), all of which garnered the indie-pop phenom a lot of favorable juice in the press. Last year, Tillman also adopted the funk/hip-hop/R&B alter ego Har Mar Superstar, which he claimed was his little brother, and recorded an album of beats and rhymes that walked the fine line between parody and homage.
With such creative breadth, it should come as no surprise that Tillman claims influences as far-ranging as the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Gang of Four, and Patti Smith. With his latest album, the astonishing My Majesty, he offers additional reference points: the lo-fi funky shuffle of Beck, the moody baroque pop of Morrissey, the stripped-down verve of the White Stripes, and the heart and soul of everything great about '60s pop. Tillman's ace in the hole behind all of his musical masks is his brilliant songwriting, which finds him constantly exploring the tension between emotion and execution (angry lyrics with a bouncy soundtrack, depressed lyrics set to buoyant music, etc.), with his subjects of choice generally being the vacuum left by love's sudden departure and the parties that help fill the void afterward. And death. And teenage angst. And life. And did we mention the parties?