MS MR: Our New Record Feels 'More Upbeat & High-Energy'

Courtesy Photo
MS MR photographed in 2015.

"We were pleasantly surprised with how big everything feels," the group's Max Hershenow tells Billboard.

On Monday (Apr. 6), MS MR officially kicked off their sophomore album cycle by releasing "Painted," the pulse-pounding lead single from their second full-length, due out in July through Columbia Records. "Painted" previews a collection of songs that the pop duo says will build upon 2013's Secondhand Rapture, which included songs like "Dark Doo Wop," "Bones" and "Hurricane."



"I think we got much better about developing skills we didn't have on the first record, like 'Okay, we want to write a dance song right now that's still rooted in the MS MR aesthetic,'" the group's Max Hershenow told Billboard about the album last month. "It feels massive -- we were pleasantly surprised with how big everything feels. Everything feels more upbeat and high-energy."

Lizzy Plapinger added, "After playing on big festival stages and beginning work on this record, we wanted to hear the record live. We were really excited that we were trained on the stage, and it sort of took on this goal where we wanted to create music where we could dance around and become ourselves in a way we'd become accustomed to onstage."

"Painted," which will be released to digital retailers on Tuesday, delivers its punch upfront, and with captivating urgency. Plapinger's scattered vocal takes are collected into a taut dance hook, but the surprisingly heavy electric guitar on "Painted" is the song's secret weapon.

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"It's great that Columbia really responded to the new material -- the fact they're pushing "Painted" as their first single is an incredible statement for them, too," said Hershenow. "That means a lot that they've gravitated towards what we think is a pretty weird song. And structurally not your typical pop song, that's a testament to how formulaic writing isn't necessarily the way forward."

The as-yet-untitled new album will also include the first co-writes of the band's young careers, and with some pretty huge names. The duo linked up with Tove Lo and MNDR for the new album, which will be presented at upcoming summer festivals like Lollapalooza and Osheaga.

"I was really nervous about doing co-writes," admits Plapinger, "and it wasn't something we experimented with until the record had a foundation of what we were going to do. Now that we'd pretty much gotten what we wanted, we thought it would be fun to experiment and see where it goes and it was a really positive experience. It pushed us to different boundaries, and I think because Max and I never made music with other people, it was important to grow as musicians who could complement our voices."

Reporting by Andrew Hampp, Billboard.