WASHINGTON, August 29, 2012 –Generally, there seems to be a lack of mystery in pop music today. This lack isn’t necessarily occurring within or among the bands themselves, where mystery still can happen on occasion if the band takes the trouble to make it happen. We’re talking about a general lack of mystery in a band’s known output, often due to an advance familiarity with their music.
Since sharing music via online sources has become more prevalent—whether via download, streaming, or whatever—accessing music across the country or even around the world has become much easier for audiophiles in particular.
By the time a band actually shows at a local venue, no matter how small or possibly irrelevant of even an opening band they might be, a motivated listener can easily get his or her hands on said opening act’s entire discography. It doesn’t take a course in rocket science for listeners to familiarize themselves with a band before ever seeing or really knowing anything about that band outside of a basic understanding of their sound.
This is what made Ms Mr’s recent show at the 9:30 Club so interesting and somewhat frustrating.
At this point, the duo from Brooklyn known as Ms Mr (pronounced “miss mister”) has only recorded one single, “Hurricane,” that’s readily commercially available to the public. It takes some considerable effort to unearth the few other songs they’ve recorded in the past. In fact, trying to find any information on the Ms Mr seems next door to impossible. Most of the time, an individual combing the Internet for info on this duo will be directed to their impressively weird and vaguely ‘80s-themed tumblr page. This in turn has garnered them something of a reputation as an Internet phenomenon.
So why is any of this relevant to Ms Mr’s live show? Unless someone has seen them before, it’s not likely an audience is going to have much of an appreciation for who they really are. In a time when it’s easy just pull up something on Spotify or YouTube to get a preview-feel for a given band, Ms Mr’s musical thumbprint, aside from a few distinct singles, is still very small. This makes them something of a musical unknown, which for the most part is an oddity in today’s online environment where there seems to be instant info available for practically everything.
This scarcity of information, however, works in this duo’s favor, though. Given the paucity of public and/or musical information available on them, their own individualistic sound is every bit as mysterious as their public persona. I.e., they still retain that elusive aura of mystery.
The main point to take away from Ms Mr is just how atmospheric everything is when it comes to the sound they create. The duo performs a meticulous style of electro-pop where everything is measured and drawn back. Nothing is forced and everything from the synth to the vocals to the drum loops has a haunting and at chilling feel to it, as they fill out their live set as a four piece ensemble.
What added to the mystique of their live show was how significantly the audience bought into their unique sound. The crowd was clearly there to see electro dance pop act Marina and the Diamonds, which, despite some technical overlap, is aesthetically quite distant from the style of Ms Mr. Still that never stopped anyone fully losing themselves in the surprising, elegant sounds of Ms Mr.
Of course, Ms Mr closed with “Hurricane,” which sums up so much of what this band is about. In a time when it’s so easy to know too much about a band, it’s refreshing to see and hear a band that actually strives to control audience perceptions. This probably won’t last much longer. This band is too good for an audience to keep grasping at vapor when it comes to information on them. But for right now, the air of mystery and intrigue surrounding Ms Mr is going to continue building momentum for them, at least as long as they can keep the Internet chatter at bay.
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