The first time I heard MS MR, I was lucky enough to get a sneakpeak of the video for their then unreleased and now hugely popular (amongst hipsters) single “Hurricane.”. At the time, the duo (consisting of vocalist Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenowit) had never even played a show. Even after releasing that single and performing countless nights to packed venues, the band wouldn’t disclose their real names to the public for six months.
I’ll never forget my first thought upon watching that video: these guys are really smart. “Hurricane” was not only stylistically perfect for Tumblr (a crucial aspect of their viral popularity) but it was also a perfect, precise presentation of their artistic vision. Self-defined as “a Tumblr-glitch-pop duo,” the video combines old black and white horror movie clips (which may legitimately be some of the creepiest images I’ve ever seen. Take 1:34 for example. WTF is that?) with clips from 80s music videos, advertisements, and films, creating an eerie, dissociative yet mesmerizing four minutes of cyber hypnosis.
The experience of watching utterly epitomizes the experience of falling into the never-ending black hole of the internet. Just like the internet, moments of darkness are neutralized by diverting your attention to moments of arbitrary, but aesthetically awesome imagery. Then back to darkness. Never sure of what you’re watching or what the point is or how you feel, you keep watching until you figure out at least one of the three. Pssst…hey. Lemme tell you a secret.
YOU WON’T FIGURE ANY OF THEM OUT EVER AT ALL. YOU ARE IN THE INTERNET.
Anyway, the point is that everything is all mashed up and smashed together in a way that is both super creepy and so cool that I now want to be a MS MR video when I grow up. And of course, virtually minutes after the video became public, it was voted a best new track by Pitchfork. The video was unsurprisingly reTumbl’d and reTumbl’d and, once that was over, reTumbl’d again. I of course felt supercool for seeing the video “before it was public,” and even now I feel that I’m describing a band that’s deep-seated in the eye of some hipster-fueled, blogger-friendly hurricane (the pun was not even intentional) that’s about to blow through the music scene full-force.
I felt that when I was attending their first shows back then too, but let’s just say that storm was a bit farther away from the store. I remember distinctly not being able to get anyone to publish my reviews, because no one knew who the hell I was talking about. Or maybe they did, and just didn’t give a crap about the guys behind the video. Who knows? The world of hipness is a big cluster-wut of impenetrable fortitude in my eyes. Which is, in turn, why I stand here today writing an article about how I LIKED THEM BEFORE IT WAS COOL.
Their first show was only a year and a half ago, in the summer 2012, and I was right there front and center at Glasslands (it was really hard pushing through those ten people). I loved them so much I saw them again a month later. Their sound, what a friend pretty accurately described to me as “spectral,” is haunting in a way that leaves a lingering impression on you that you won’t soon forget. Their sound and look translate seamlessly into their live performance, which is a feat not many artists popularized by cyberspace can accomplish. And all their artistry is really paying off right now. They’re on the lineup for at least 4 of the festivals on our top 12 list: Governors Ball, Coachella, Lollapalooza and just announced this week, Bonnaroo.
Here’s your storm warning. The hurricane is coming.
Check out the new and improved “Hurricane” video below. Don’t worry, it’s just as bizarre as the first one.
MS MR are now on tour.