The modern world is a tough place for new artists. Sure, it gets your music straight out there, but it also puts you up against millions of other talented people, meaning that it has never been easier to be outshone. This means that not only is it impressive for Lily & Madeleine to have outshone their competition, but they have done it without needing any novelty value, proving that, in the end, an audience – an audience of 250 000 on YouTube – will respond to talent over anything else. Their first original song In The Middle, simply filmed in black and white, won them a fanbase and a few sell-out shows, and now the sisters are beginning their journey with their debut album Lily & Madeleine. It’s a sweet, deep and thoughtful record, and, having done it all before either of them have reached twenty years old, it is enough to make you weep with envy.
From the opening song Sounds Like Somewhere, it’s apparent that this album is heading in the right direction. Undoubtedly, there is a fear in this Miley Cyrus-creating industry that young pop-stars need some gimmicky value to survive, but this album immediately gives us beautiful, unadorned harmonies and musical talent in its purest form. So, the rest of the album need only stay true to this to be brilliant. Devil We Know offers a more atmospheric and dark sound, and further proves that as well as perfect control over their voices, they can turn a tale of nature’s anger into a song radiating with sweetness. But it’s not just tempestuous emotions they have in their bag, because songs such as Nothing But Time or I’ve Got Freedom give their harmonic talents an upbeat edge and allow their saccharine sides to shine through. As they sing how they’ve ‘got nothing but time’, and that may be true, but they are certainly making good use of it so far.
What is so remarkable about the two girls is not just that they have effortless talent, better than most people twice, or even three times, their age, but that they are also so creative and beguiling with their lyrics. Spirited Away is a song that certainly stood out as I listened, but it is only as I focused on the lyrics that I noticed how much care had gone into them. It is easy, after all, to find yourself taken away by their harmonies, but songs such as Lost Upon The Sea, Goodbye To Anyone and album closer You Got Out, are so beautifully crafted lyrically that it is a surprise talent can be spread so evenly throughout each sector of this album. Lost Upon The Sea, in particular, is a charming song about, well, being lost on the sea, but it is sung with such sincerity and feeling that you could begin to believe they have lived each story they sing about.
With this eponymous debut, Lily and Madeleine have created a catalogue of energetic, melancholic and soulful songs with as much luring vocal talent as emotive storytelling. In short, these girls are exactly what pop music should be – there is no glittery edge or unnecessary sex appeal and no novelty value, just pure, universally accessible pop. Lily and Madeleine may not be aware of what they are capable of yet, but I cannot wait until they do, because they sure have a lot of good to offer already.