Lily & Madeleine - Fumes

by Jeff Penczak Rating:10 Release Date:2014-10-28

The chiming doorbell sound of vibes (xylophone to us old timers) announces the latest album from the sisters Jurkiewicz. The title track is off and running with all their signature loveliness – angelic harmonies, gently rolling piano, soft rat-a-tat drum backing and the occasional chiming bell to add a little festive feel. It’s these little flourishes that add so much and turn a simple pop album into a masterpiece of construction, showing an attention to detail that’s always been a trademark of their sound.

Their tender wholesomeness and youthful exuberance leaps from every song, marking a return to the innocent days of yore when perfectly constructed pop melodies sung with crystalline vocals and performed with the assurance of legendary session men like The Wrecking Crew counted for something in the music business, blasting from AM radios and car stereos all over America. Listen to the weeping steel-guitar on ‘Ride Away’, the clap-happy girl-group dreaminess of ‘Cabin Fever’, the olde tyme elegance of 50s vocal groups like The Fleetwoods (‘The Wolf is Free’) or the Spanish flamenco-styled guitar backing on ‘Hold onto Now’, and let your mind wander back to gentler, innocent days when beautiful music put a smile on your face and an ache in your heart. And wait til you hear the Neil Young-inspired dirgy, lying-in-a-burnt-out-basement vibe of closer ‘Blue Blades’, with weeping strings, forlorn piano playing in a distant room, and tearful harmonies which sound like something out of a funeral procession orchestrated by Joy Division.      

Their voices have matured a bit since they sprung on the scene from nowhere (OK, Indiana) a few years ago. Their vocal arrangements are more structured, more assured, and they’re still not even 21!

This is pop and folk for the whole family – a record you can enjoy listening to with your parents. Any music that brings families together is a step forward in my book. It's simply amazing and one of my top five albums of the year, one that will make the upcoming winter months a lot warmer. To borrow a phrase from Mike (Social Distortion) Ness, this is what it sounds like when the angels sing.

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