Live Review

MS MR, Academy 2, Oxford

A couple of drama queens, a sparkly bundle of fun and smiley Colgate whiteness.

Tonight, it’s difficult to tell who’s happier to see whom: the audience or the band. There are smiling faces all round. As soon as Tumblr-pop duo MS MR (Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow to their friends) peep around the stage curtain, one with orange-green hair, the other in Thriller-style leather and gold chain, a mutual sense of rapture streaks across the floor. An unexpected rock-out from their backing musicians immediately holds the audience in their grasp and the mood is set for the so-called Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Ultimately, MS MR is two best friends having fun, and this is blindingly obvious throughout. Ever since they met at an Arts College in New York, Lizzy’s early-00s London upbringing has always found its perfect counterpart in Max’s rural perspective, and it’s that partnership of opposites which stitches their songs together tonight. Whilst Max is constantly dancing, bashing at his Korgs, an energising presence, Lizzy grins with an air of ‘Oh, doesn’t the audience look cute’, leering at her mic stand and commanding the audience like a proper protagonist. Together, they’re a couple of drama queens, a sparkly bundle of fun and smiley Colgate whiteness.

On this, their “second-to-last date of a two-year tour”, they joke, the band moves through a circus-like carnival, stadium riffage, heart-wrenching ballad-making, and ‘sassy bitch-face’ swagger, but they always touch on pop excellence. To start off, nothing beats the chill-inducing three-part harmonies of ‘Dark Doo Woop’ and the hip-swaying stargaze of ‘BTSK’, which proves Lizzy’s voice is equipped with an affective vulnerability. But then comes the inspiring cover of ‘Dance Yrself Clean’, by fellow New Yorkers LCD Soundsystem. The theme of gutsy, no-shit attitude is translated perfectly through its gradually building verses and climactic breakdown. But it’s left to their breakthrough hit ‘Hurricane’ to close proceedings, with a swing that never gets old, wallowing synth strings and bass thuds which comprise the perfect counterpoint to Lizzy’s softly-spoken lyricism. It’s a deeply personal tune, but there’s a contradiction: literally everybody knows the words. Very few bands could make darkness sound this sweet.

Tags: MS MR, Features

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