Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow didn’t mean to start a band. Not really. They just wanted to create this weird, introspective multimedia art show on Tumblr, and MS MR’s inception was integral to that plan. How it would sound, they didn’t yet know. But the vision was there, and it’s brought the electro-glitch-pop duo from Brooklyn to Soda Bar this Saturday, Dec. 7, as part of the 91X Presents The Next Big Thing series.
It all makes sense, given their backgrounds (on which they’ve kept somewhat quiet). Plapinger, the co-founder of NYC’s pop label Neon Gold Records, and Hershenow, a producer, are interested in how music is made, how individual components combine to create something that the pieces cannot compete with. It’s that sentiment that drove the duo, under the guise of MS MR, to embark on the Candy Bar Creep Show project on Tumblr.
The EP made headlines, in part for MS MR’s multimedia approach to record-making. The duo posted one song from Candy Bar Creep Show on their Tumblr each week leading up to the actual release. These weren’t just flat tracks, however. Paired with video collages, the songs became presentations -- in the case of “Bones,” something like trippy karaoke projections. Others, such as the “Hurricane” video, remind of subliminal message slideshows, pictures and videos blinking quickly across the screen in tune to music, words flashing spasmodically.
There were questions as to whether the music, then, would be powerful enough to stand independently. Radio success says yes, it is. Plapinger’s voice, with a roundness that emulates Dessa’s circa “Dixon’s Girl,” has been compared to Florence’s (of the Machine) and Lana Del Rey’s. There’s a richness that makes it both commercial and mysterious, notes alternating between confident and unsure, with an underlying vulnerability that’s quickly becoming a pop trend.
May brought the release of the duo’s debut LP, Secondhand Rapture, an expansion on the EP hits. At its best, Plapinger’s spooky echoes carry over Hershenow’s snappy beats, swirling in the way that weather fights back against human influence. There’s a sweet threat to the noise, and when that hook catches, the room may as well be spinning around the swaying dandelions the music makes of us. Some of the tracks are more experimental, with Plapinger and Hershenow testing the boundaries of their sound. Catch MS MR in the midst of it all, as they’re still identifying their identity.
MS MR play Soda Bar on Saturday, Dec. 7, 8 p.m., $0.91, 21+. Island Boy opens.