Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz return with their third album, Keep It Together, following a couple for Sufjan Stevens’ excellent Asthmatic Kitty label (their eponymous debut in 2013 and Fumes in 2014).
The sisters’ music is built on those glorious harmonies that seem to be the preserve of musical siblings, (the Wilson brothers in The Beach Boys, for instance, or to give a more contemporary and relevant example, First Aid Kit‘s Söderberg sisters), not to mention the strength of their songs.
Keep It Together builds on the success of those previous releases and is a beautifully produced album that also showcases a greater diversity of styles. ‘Not Gonna’ is a lushly orchestrated opener and sets the scene for a 10-song album that never outstays its welcome. ‘Westfield’ doesn’t appear to be a tribute to large shopping malls, but is a swoonsome track that recalls the lilting coolness of prime Pure Bathing Culture.
‘Chicago’ is a wonderfully understated gem with the vocals right up front, while ‘Hourglass’ benefits from a lovely piano riff, with those faultless harmonies again evident. Meanwhile, ‘Hotel Pool’ marries ambient synths with distinctive drums and is a really interesting side-step to start ‘side two’. Albums between 35-40 minutes in length has served such celebrated artists as The Go-Betweens and The Smiths well, and it works very effectively for Lily and Madeleine, who tastefully resist the need to pile on unnecessary sounds or songs and keep the quality control spot on.
‘Midwest Kid’ references the sisters’ Indianapolis hometown, while arguably the most introspective track on show here, ‘Nothing’, is kept to the closing track on the record. The lyrics are pretty heartbreaking: ‘Packed a bag/Took a bus/Up to see you/Early Sunday morning/When I arrived/There you were/Holding flowers for a girl that wasn’t me’. It’s a poignant ending to an album that is very accessible; the quality of the songs is immediately evident but there are subtleties that reveal themselves over subsequent listens too.
Lily and Madeleine deserve to go up a level or two with Keep It Together. Perhaps, as for the aforementioned First Aid Kit, those posh concert hall-type venues are waiting around the corner. Any chance to see them in a smaller venue, (a European tour is in the pipeline though no dates are announced yet), should certainly be grabbed!