Well… It isn’t Wednesday. But when was the last time I actually updated on a Wednesday?
Truth be told I haven’t really been interested in writing for awhile. April was a really busy month because of the end of the semester and it’s hard to make yourself write something for pleasure when you’re too busy writing for pain school. And then finals were over… and I wanted to veg out on Netflix (which believe me, I’m basically a pro at by now). And then May happened. I’m training for a triathlon, so that takes up all of my time. That and work. I work a lot.
Also, you wouldn’t even believe the work it takes to pick out an album. Sure, people suggest things all the time — but if I’m not feeling it believe me it doesn’t happen. Having said that, I promise I’ll get to Rated R at some point Linds. For my first post in like a month, I picked an album I’ve honestly been meaning to write about since I started this blog.
My writing is a little rusty, so cut me some slack.
Album: Secondhand Rapture Artist: MS MR
I’ve mentioned this group before. If you read my Who Covered Who? post from earlier this year, you might recognize them from their cover of Arctic Monkey’s “Do I Wanna Know?”
MS MR (pronounced Miz Mister if you’re looking to be a snob about it or you’re totally clueless) is a duo from New York that formed in 2011. The duo consists of vocalist and multicolored hair aficionado Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow. That pretty much covers what I know about them; I know more about Lizzy than Max — she’s the co-founder of Neon Gold Records, an indie label that has worked with artists like Charlie XCX, Ellie Goulding, Gotye, and Haim, and she grew up in London and still doesn’t have an accent. A shame, really.
But back to the duo: MS MR is one of those groups that originally rose to fame on the internet. In fact, the “Secondhand” in the album title Secondhand Rapture refers to the fact that most people get things from the internet these days. They released their first album, Secondhand Rapture, in May of 2013 (two years ago yesterday, actually) and it was released by Columbia Records. The duo actually wrote and produced all of their own songs with a little extra help from Tom Elmhirst, which I find pretty impressive despite the fact that Plapinger has misgivings about her abilities as a lyricist.
Secondhand Rapture is an interesting album. I’ve seen it described as “indie pop,” “alt rock,” “dream pop,” and “dark wave.” The latter two seem to be most accurate to me. Don’t ask me where the rock comes in, because this is definitely a pop album by a pop group. The album actually comes along with a visual aid that can be found on the group’s website called “Secondhand Captures.” I watched them all, but I won’t go into too much detail. I’ll post a link at the bottom if you’re interested in watching, but I don’t think the music needs them. The sounds on the album make it visual enough on it’s own in an odd way.
The overall sound on Secondhand Rapture actually has quite the variety. To me the album has a lofty sound and it sort of reminds me of the night sky or a dewey morning. It’s dark and rolling, but the tracks themselves are actually quite different from one another. Songs like “Hurricane,” “Dark Doo Wop,” and “BTSK” tend to have that sultry darkness I mentioned, but tracks like “Salty Sweet” and “Think of You” offset it with an upbeat and worldly sound. More than one critic has compared the duo to Florence + The Machine (and that also includes my parents) and even some compare them to Lana Del Rey (except better because I can’t stand Lana Del Rey). To me, MS MR’s Secondhand Rapture has the best of both worlds.
And despite Lizzy’s lack of confidence in her words, all of her songs manage to carry some kind of theme and I think she conveys it very well. In “Fantasy,” Oscar Wilde’s famous quote “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all” is payed homage with the lines “Existing and living/Are not the same” as Plapinger grapples with living in her own head. She also has knowledge of rock history, as she broods on the 27 Club in “Twenty Seven.”
Overall, Secondhand Rapture received mixed reviews. Andy Gill of The Independent said it had a “hollow ring” and Laura Snapes of Pitchfork only gave the album a 6/10. But critics like Laurence Green of Music OMH loved it. Personally, I think the album is a pretty great debut. MS MR is a group that came out strong and knows where they’re weak which is something I can respect. Someone else must have liked it to, because the album peaked at 24 on the US Top Alternative Albums, which isn’t bad if I do say so myself.
If you like MS MR (which Erin: you will), Secondhand Rapture can be found on Spotify and iTunes. Their new single “Painted” can be found there as well! It’s different from this album, but it’s good. They’ve maintained their integrity so far.
Like this album? Hate this album? Have a request? Let me know in the comments here, Facebook, or Twitter! Until Wednesday or Thursdayish, keep listening 🙂
Secondhand Captures — found on MS MR’s website