The twelve tracks that make up ‘Secondhand Rapture’, the debut full-length from MS MR - that’s New Yorkers Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow - are effectively pop songs, but with a darker twist as a result of the dreamy sounds they create. ‘Fantasy’ demonstrates this well, its catchy melody (strangely similar to Shakira’s ‘Hips Don’t Lie’) is sung with the delivery of a club classic, with the production to match. While at times this begins to irritate, as if the pair are awkwardly straddling the line between dark pop and club hit, here, it works.
The same can’t be said for ‘Think Of You’ however, which is a little annoying. The vocals are weaker than elsewhere, and the instrumentation generic. It results in something you’d expect to hear at a holiday camp - and not during ATP.
The instrumentation is super-clean. ‘BTSK’ boasts lovely, deep brass chords and a slow, bass-driven beat that sounds like a salute to dubstep. It’s a shame, then, that it’s overshadowed by pizzicato strings last heard in a cheesy ballad from the early Noughties. At times, it’s formulaic: quiet parts suddenly ‘dropping’ in to bass-heavy refrains is an idea repeated on most of the songs and tires very quickly.
For the main part, MS MR don’t follow the standard verse / chorus form, instead opting for songs which start small and build up, like a wave. And Plapinger has an undeniably impressive voice, that mostly works well in context. But the songs are lyrically lacking in emotional maturity, and barely rise above generic. In ‘Think Of You’, for example, she sings ‘I still think of you / and all the shit you put me through,’ a line which belongs in a school talent show.
And as a whole, the record seems more like a collection of unrelated tracks than an album, a log of the songs the duo have recorded. They’ve got some good ideas, but perhaps just aren’t ready for a full-length release.
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