Lily & Madeleine by Lily & Madeleine (Album)
On their self-titled debut, Indianapolis sisters Lily & Madeleine write songs that bring to mind Cat Power and Beth Orton
here’s a moment in 2007’s much-loved indie coming of age film Juno where all of the struggles that can befall youth are encapsulated by the most sincere and cathartic end result of all, life itself. As the film’s titular protagonist brings new life into the world, the musical backdrop is provided by Cat Life’s superb Sea Of Love. It’s a backdrop that could have inspired the brilliant self-titled debut album by Lily & Madeleine, a record full of hope yet underpinned by a sense of struggle that renders success all the more perfect.
Opening with the piano-aided Sounds Like Somewhere, the similarity to Cat Power is evident not just in the duo’s delicate music but in the mixture of honey and smoke that imbues their vocals, which have the sort of warmly stoic delivery that could clear a hysterical storm. There’s also a lovely string section that displays the songwriting prowess of the precocious pair.
As Lily & Madeleine make their way through the record’s 12 songs, other influences raise their head. Such as the jangle pop of Nothing But Time – think Murmur-era REM, or the alt-country indie of And Tonight and I’ve Got Freedom, neither of which would sound out place alongside the later work of Bright Eyes. Lily & Madeleine also bring to mind another murky-voiced chanteuse, the excellent Beth Orton, on tracks like Lost Upon The Sea.
Juno was one of the surprise cinematic hits of 2007, turning writer Diablo Cody into the literary darling of Hollywood. Whether Lily & Madeleine’s debut album will have the same impact is open to debate. But what is certain is that if you felt Juno was a deserved hit then Lily & Madeleine deserves your attention.
Verdict: Finely crafted indie-folk