Product DetailsThis 4-track EP by the girl on vocals, boy on keyboards Brooklyn based duo conveniently collects all their releases so far, highlighting the newest track “Bones” as the lead-off single. The worst thing I could say about MS MR is that they can resemble thematically, sonically and vocally Florence and The Machine (the year’s most tiresome and frequently used reference) and the best is that these doomed, timeless, high school girl vignettes call to mind a more magnified version of Cat’s Eyes (responsible for one of the very best albums of last year), where all the blurry edges have been rubbed away.

The aforementioned “Bones” is very good, all Bernard Herrmann ‘Psycho’ strings and tripped-out tension, but of all the tracks here is maybe the least effective and is the one where Lizzy Plapinger vocally and lyrically (‘empty churches with soulless curses’) most resembles X Factor goth, Ms Welch but thankfully without the contrived histrionics and harps.

Hurricane” is one of the best pop songs (and it is pop song) of this year, hands down. ‘Welcome to the inner workings of my mind, so dark and foul, I can’t disguise’ so says Plapinger with a swagger and confidence betraying the sentiment in this multi-layered, clanking and creaking cinematic gem and with finger-clicking “Dark Doo Wop” (potentially disastrous song title but fear not!) picture Lana Del Rey and spear it with your stilleto, screw it up and throw it away, that’s the attitude here. Strings quivering in the corner with the refrain ‘This world is gonna burn, burn, burn’ and Plapinger sounding very Sinead O’Conner circa “Troy” with an emphasis on the ‘buuurn’; mental health problems have never sounded so appealing.

Ash Tree Lane” is the most complex and fullest sounding track here, although it’s fair to say that MS MR don’t really do bare, and is probably my favourite. There’s little deviation from the sonic tone already established but the swell of brass wrapping itself around the ‘ooh ohh, woah woah’ wordless chorus and the moment where Plapinger declares her ‘mind is a mess’ and she inhales an audible gasp of breath and the music stops for split second is hugely effective and exciting, creating pitch black vivid imagery.

If MS MR don’t take 2 years to release their debut (which according to the group is coming, it’s finished apparently and they’ve secured a record deal) and can maintain this level of quality then they are truly an exciting prospect and will be something to really look forward to in 2013.  I, for one, can’t wait.

I reviewed MS MR’s quite special debut  4-track  EP “Candy Bar Creep Show” late last year and may have even, in a moment of rare generosity, given it 5 stars. During its release the boy-girl, goth pop duo from New York were already speaking excitingly about their first album being almost ready to go and I remember thinking at the time, that’ll be good, something to look forward to. Well now it’s here and, although some of it’s good, it’s not really that special.

Hurricane” was one of the best pop singles of last year; it swaggered beautifully.  Lizzie Plapinger’s strong, clear vocals moaned about the foul contents of her mind; it was a helluva song. It was part of the aforementioned EP, the other three remaining tracks being equally strong, if subtle, shifts on the same sonic theme. It’s a big mistake though to include all 4 songs again here and especially to front load the album with them. Apart from another couple of songs, which also include the bombastic single “Fantasy”, again released as single before this album, the best tracks here are, disappointingly, still these same 4 songs and the decision for them to dominate the first quarter of the album only succeeds in hammering this point home.     

Of the remaining 8, unheard, tracks only “Think of You”, which follows the same, already established, template with a catchy-as-hell chorus that, instead of being bellowed, is thankfully more reflective and the Lana Del Rey-indebted ballad “BTSK”, which actually stands for Big Teeth, Small Kiss  (you can see why they decided to abbreviate it),  has drama and build with another big but dumber chorus,  comes close to the quality heard eight months ago on “CBCS”. Like Florence’s second album in particular, which MS MR’s brand of broad, glam pop has, rightly to a point, been compared to, the set up for every track is almost identical and that kind of repetition can of course work, but only if the songwriting is strong enough to support it. “Salty Sweet” is the one variation musically and is a lilting, feather-light reggae mistake.  A song like “Twenty Seven” (as in the age, at which it’s hoped one will live past)  feels so set up to soundtrack a Tumblr account of pop cultural clichés, is too shallow and under-written to penetrate in the way that it wants to. By the end of the album one song blurs into another and any strong sense of identity that may have been established at the beginning of the album has all but disappeared.

There’s a sense here that maybe there was a pressure to get this album out as soon as possible; MS MR have the feeling of a band who are very of the moment and dangerously hip. I’m sure that their moment hasn’t passed, half of this album is certainly good and enjoyable enough to make an impression and get them noticed, but if they want to headline Glastonbury, their ultimate dream, they’re going to need more than 1 EPs worth of cracking material so let’s hope that they can deliver on that initial promise.