Remember the song that played during the season three teaser-trailer for “Game of Thrones?” The intense drums and haunting lyrics made that one of the most epic trailers this year.
It’s also the best song on MS MR’s debut album, “Secondhand Rapture.”
MS MR is a New York-based duo comprised of singer Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow. The two got their start in 2011, and released three singles and an EP called “Candy Bar Creep Show” in September 2012.
“Secondhand Rapture” isn’t a completely hopeless album, but anyone who’s heard “Bones,” the song used in the “Game of Thrones” trailer, will be disappointed in the album if that’s the kind of music they’re hoping for.
“Bones” is dark. It’s about living in a crappy world and wanting to find a better one. Lyrics such as “dig up her bones, but leave her soul alone” and “broken dreams and silent screams, empty churches with soulless curses” set a desperate tone. When matched with low piano notes, tribal-sounding drums and Lizzy’s soft but commanding vocals, they seem to resonate with something in the listener. The experience is memorable.
Then something like “Salty Sweet” plays, and while Lizzy’s vocals are still lovely, the song is horrifically upbeat and pop-like. There is even a background sound of clapping along with the music, and it sounds vaguely like something from a high school cheerleading troupe.
Another sugar sweet song is “Ash Tree Lane.” Complete with peppy percussion and cheery vocals, this is almost the furthest song from listeners’ expectations.
“Dark Doo Wop” tries to bridge a gap between upbeat and intense, and it works better in the second half of the song than it does near the beginning. Still, it’s a fun one when in the right mood.
“No Trace” is almost as fun as “Bones,” and features commanding vocals and energetic music. Lizzy sounds like she’s confident and strong in this song, and that is captivating to listen to. The heavy drums reappear as well.
None of the songs are horrible, but neither do they go together as a whole. MS MR sounds like they are at war with their band’s musical identity in this album, and the large variation in sound is frustrating to listen to. Listeners have to be in one mood for half the album, and a completely different one to enjoy the other.
Here’s hoping their next one is a bit more uniform.