There’s a largely accepted view in Hollywood: if a film’s buzz has generally been quiet and kept away from the press, it’s probably not a good sign. That’s kind of how we felt when we remembered that MS MR‘s second album, How Does It Feel, was releasing soon – no fanfare, barely any singles, and not even an iota as much fuss as their decent debut.
That Painted and Criminals were the chosen singles to trail the record is also somewhat telling. They’re far from the duo’s best work, but their service as advertisements confirms an unfortunate fact: there is no Hurricane-like depth here, no spike of Think Of You. The dark drench of pop that made MS MR special is curiously missing, and it is painfully apparent.
In their defence, Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow do try their best. The production is relatively tight, and Plapinger’s gutsy vocals certainly over-egg a slightly iffy pudding. The problem, crucially, is the songwriting. Tracks like No Guilt In Pleasure and Wrong Victory blend into one another without raising pulse or eyebrow, choruses come and go (the title track feels forced beyond reason), and there’s very little to demand a repeat listen.
So, how does it feel? It feels like MS MR have attempted a stab at straightforward pop – like a lot of their label-mates and city peers – without realising that their left-leaning antics were essential to their success. It feels like we’ve wasted hours of our lives looking for some gold in this record (though we come close in the last four tracks, which restore the glory of their first EP). Worst of all, it feels like we’ve been shortchanged by a band who showed so much promise but have squandered it on a scale to rival The Ting Tings. There can’t really be any worse feeling than that.
How Does It Feel by MS MR can be ordered here.