Ms Mr @ The Hifi
If we were excited to see MS MR before the arrival of indie outfit Twinsy, it was pennies compared to how we felt during the support act's perplexing set. To their credit, they may have been having an off night. Committing musical suicide, the outfit involved two rock drummers. Inevitably, all we heard was a cacophony of snares and toms, disappointing due to the physical presence of both a saxophone and trumpet which were barely audible. The music was ambiguous. The physical presence of sax and trumpet hinted at jazz fusion, however their inability to be heard threw their whole sound into a completely different direction.
Restless and aching for MS MR, we were more than relieved when it finally became their turn. Showcasing a contagious repertoire of moody pop, Lizzie Plapinger and Max Hershenow transitioned their audience into an eerie world of spooky key changes and atmospheric synths. One of the many delights of the New York duo is found in Max's skill as a producer; his humility in engineering subdued and minimalist instrumentation which allows Lizzie's powerful voice to be fully exposed.
Opening with Bones, the versatility in Lizzie's vocal range was immediately validated. With flawless pipes that seemed unlikely to come from such a tiny frame, she employed a Florence-esque intonation in the final cry of "Dig up her bones, but leave her soul alone", a desperate lyric that complemented the creepy little riffs orchestrated by Max on his keyboard.
Occasionally taking respite from the ominous, yet delectable mood, Max and Lizzie would engage in a sporadic dance number. Both danced to seduce; their skills and taut and toned physiques making the rest of us look bad. What did we care though? We were there to watch them, and they were hot. Lizzie was a vamp and Max couldn't keep his body still behind the keys.
In between songs, they became human again, with a genuine graciousness that melted our hearts. The irony of their performance was found in their stage vigour. They were vivacious, yet their music is thematically grim. Fusing Latin-inspired dance moves with gloomy instrumentals was refreshing and fun, an innovative way to celebrate a new brand of indie pop. Adding dynamic to their set was the inclusion of an anonymous drummer and a synth player. Both drove the rhythm of the music, the guy on synth occasionally whipping out an electric guitar. The synthesiser co-existed perfectly with Max's keyboard, both responsible for the moody atmospherics that define MS MR's signature sound.
Both Lizzie and Max's competence as a duo was confirmed throughout This Isn't Control, a track that saw the temporary disappearance of the two other players on stage. While Lizzie ironically showcased her more than capable vocal control, Max played a spooky little carnival-like riff over the top of it. His subtle harmonies were beautiful and chilling. A flawless set, its only downside being its brevity.
BY DINA AMIN
LOVED: The perfect synergy of Lizzie and Max.
HATED: The support band, sorry.