There are a lot of things you need to know about MS MR, if you don't know about them already. First off, Lizzy Plapinger (MS) brings an almost soulful tone as a vocalist, unlike the often nasal-dominated world of female-led pop. She lets her voice take the forefront, rejecting the indie trend of muttering softly behind much louder instrumentals. Not only does her MR counterpart— Max Hershenow— bring keyboard to the ensemble, but also his experience in modern dance, which he studied at Vassar where the two musicians met. Both of them perform rather than just “play”, spinning away from the mic and keyboard intermittently to add in short, seemingly spontaneous dance routines, at least this what I found to be true at their recent concert in Philly at Union Transfer.
So much of the magic of MSMR is in the visual, which does not take away from their music but rather, enhances it. As is the case with their publicity shots, Lizzy and Max usually sport daring, fashion-forward outfits onstage. During the show last Saturday Max wore a splatter paint patterned t-shirt and Lizzy donned a skin-tight, pants-length black halter jumpsuit with large sequins adorning the top, a black leather belt, and chunky heeled leather boots. The pair admits to thrift shopping with pride in every city they stop in. “We adore fashion, adore shopping, adore vintage shopping. We’re both artistic people, very visceral shoppers,” said Lizzy. For Max, his passion for fashion developed quite young. “I did go through a phase as a 5-year-old where I only wore a single strap leopard print onesie,” he said.
Since MSMR's debut album Secondhand Rapture, they have been compared to the likes of Florence and the Machine and Lana Del Rey, but have plenty to offer of their own. Their newest album, which dropped this July, How Does It Feel has probably already captured your attention with songs such as "Reckless" and "Criminals".
The pair has been gaining popularity at a fairly rapid rate recently, but in some countries more so than others. “For whatever reason our music is extremely successful in Australia, so whenever we go there we feel like Beyoncé,” said Lizzy. Whatever MS MR is doing right now is certainly working, but the pair doesn’t discount shaking things up with genre in the future. Max describes their current work as “bombastic alternative pop,” but also said that in general “we don’t feel like we put our music in a box.” “The door is always open,” added Lizzy.