MS MR, a New York-based duo consisting of Max Hershenow and vocalist Lizzy Plapinger, are following up their warmly received debut effort with How Does It Feel. The group make indie pop dance music, and on their first release, Secondhand Rapture, fused their pop music with atmospheric production, pounding drums and lyricism by Plapinger that was equally catchy and fun but had a darker underbelly. All this mixed with their unique visual aesthetic set the group up to be an original force in the pop world.
On their 12-track new release, the group sticks to the formula they applied to Secondhand Rapture. They still are creating dance music, but it seems less effective this time around. This may in fact be because, comparatively, there are acts making inspired dance music that don’t have top 40 aspirations from the get go and are creative in their approach to the crowd-pleasing genre. How Does it Feel, well feels, like the group was trying to make a hit single with every song, so we get an album full of songs with the same structure.
The songs on this album only rise to the same level of TV commercial greatness, with forgettable hooks and a similar vocal delivery through and through that do not show off the power or versatility Plapinger flaunted more on the first release. Her lyricism falls short on this album through excessive cliches that could be distracting to some listeners. She sings in the chorus of “Tripolar,” “One, two/ it’s getting too close for me to/ Three, four/ keep on chasing the fool/ It’s a beautiful truth that hurts the most/Should I even stay?”
The production side of How Does it Feel is filled with moments of swirling synths and pounding drums that will catch your ear at times. Mostly, though, the production is unoriginal and repetitive throughout the album, disappointing when listeners of their debut know that MS MR is capable of more.
Die hard fans of the group may be satisfied with this album, as MS MR seem to lean more towards their pop sensibilities and created songs that will find radio and TV, and will no doubt be an enjoyable live show for their fans. But the music would have had a greater impact had it been more original.