Posted on July 14th, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Heather Starks

MS MR, the somewhat mysterious twosome garnering comparisons to the likes of Florence and the Machine and Lana Del Ray, are inviting you on a Back to the Future-style ride. How Does It Feel makes multiple pit stops, hanging out in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, all the while infusing modern sounds and attempting to create new ones.

This New York outfit has already proven their ability to produce standout music. Their debut album Second Hand Rapture was a heady, ethereal journey of discovery vaulted by the success of two previously released tracks "Hurricane" and "Fantasy." Both coming from fine arts backgrounds, MS (Lizzy Plapinger) and MR (Max Hershenow) are attempting to bring the worlds of art and music together by way of a sonic collision. How Does It Feel is the latest offering from the minds of these glitch pop pioneers and the results are intriguing, though not always favorable. From the frantic first moments of "Painted" to the honey drenched tones of "Wrong Victory," MS MR plant their flag on an ever-changing musical landscape and discover the growing pains that come with reinvention.

According to the band themselves, they were surprised when Columbia Records not only allowed but pushed for "Painted" to be the first single. While it is comforting to hear a major label would be so supportive of a such an unusual song, one listen will make you wonder how it found a place on the album at all. It strains to be different but takes a step too far into the unintentionally kitschy. "Criminals" almost erases the bad taste in your mouth and is where the album truly starts in earnest. Everything suddenly comes together under the slick production of MR, who harnesses an uncanny ability to float between genres as if the lines never existed.

If there is one constant on this album, it is the enormous vocal talent of Lizzy Plapinger. It cannot be overstated that what you are hearing is a truly talented singer who knows how to employ both the technical and emotional sides of her performance with what seems like the greatest of ease. Her greatest weakness appears to be an affinity for repeating and phrasing lyrics in the form of a question, a phenomenon that takes place on no less than five songs. While this does come across as a little sophomoric, it is easier to forgive when the delivery is so electric. If you don’t have chills after falling under the sway of her sultry voice on "Wrong Victory," you might want to have your ears checked out.

This biggest issue with How Does It Feel is that the magic only lasts for so long. What starts out as a fun and energetic experiment comes to a grinding halt about halfway through. This is where the questions about MS MR really begin. Is there enough substance here to warrant our attention? Is this just another case of shiny wrapping paper covering the same old thing? All one needs to do is search "one hit wonders" to see that this is too often the case; even more so concerning bands that are actively waving the flag of non-conformity. In this regard, they remain an unknown variable, which is probably exactly how they want it.

While the future of MS MR has yet to be decided, it is important to remember that this is only their second full album. Few artists find their voice so soon and it would be unfair to decide their fate at this early juncture. The talent between them is overwhelming, buying them some much-needed time before the verdict is in. Until we hear different, this smattering of brilliance will have to do.

Track List:

  1. Painted
  2. Criminals
  3. No Guilt In Pleasure
  4. Wrong Victory
  5. Tripolar
  6. How Does It Feel
  7. Tunnels
  8. Leave Me Alone
  9. Reckless
  10. Cruel
  11. Pieces
  12. All the Things Lost
MS MR - How Does it Feel
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

78 / 100
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