MS MR – Secondhand Rapture album review

“Welcome to the inner workings of my mind, so dark and foul I can’t disguise,” the opening track of MS MR’s first full-length album Secondhand Rapture warns. It’s an apt warning; the New York duo certainly have an affinity for the dark and disturbing. However, that warning shouldn’t drive you away from the album. If anything, you should keep listening, similar to how that dumb chick in the horror movie goes into the basement to investigate that strange noise. The difference in this situation is that you won’t regret the decision.

While it’s true that a lot of these songs had appeared previously on MS MR’s Candy Bar Creep Show EP, that doesn’t take away from the album at all; I’d argue that Secondhand Rapture is perhaps a more complete iteration of the duo’s vision. The additions of new tracks like “Head is Not My Home” and “Twenty Seven” add to what seems to be the point of the album: balancing beauty with darkness.

One of the best “recycled” tracks on Secondhand Rapture is “Dark Doo Wop,” a quiet, haunting ballad. With swelling strings and the ever-reverent organ, vocalist Lizzy Plapinger croons, “If we’re gonna die, bury us alive. If you’re searching for us, you’ll find us side by side.” Yeah, it’s a little morbid, but it’s also pretty sweet.

“Head is Not My Home” is a great new track on the album. It’s a little reminiscent of Florence + The Machine, which I think is a good thing. The thunderous drums and chorus of chanted “ho-ohs” in the background allow you to really feel the passion in Plapinger’s words. It’s an anthem of weird love, I suppose. And it’s glorious.

Of course, an album that focuses so much on the lurid and macabre is bound to have its missteps. “Think of You” is supposed to be the ultimate breakup song, but it falls stupendously short. The lyrics “I still think of you and all the shit you put me through” are just too clumsy and simple;  it is so far apart from the rest of the album, you have to wonder if there was some sort of external pressure to include a more “mainstream” track. But what makes MS MR so enthralling is that they are great at weird. Trying to be “normal” just doesn’t work for them.

Bottom line, Secondhand Rapture is a revelation. It kind of proves that weirdness and that dark corner of your brain can yield amazing results. I think MS MR are headed for great things and I can’t wait for more. In fact, they’ve already been featured on a Game of Thrones promo, and they’re scheduled to perform this summer at Lollapalooza. I, for one, will be in the front row.

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