L&M have noted that the album is a coming of age album of sorts, as they begin to transfer into adulthood; “hold on to now because everything’s changing” indicates this sentiment entirely in ‘Hold Onto Now.’ That said, the harmonious unison the sisters create is ever-present and this is the crux the rest of the sound builds upon. The interchange between harmony and a single voice is seamless, as a striking new sound merges with a more grounded voice. The album also expresses a certain musical maturity so that it doesn’t rely on the vocals but seeks to enhance them. ‘Lips and Hips’ slowly builds from the intimacy of voice and piano into layers of drum beats and strings that compliment the initial simplicity brilliantly.
However, the pair’s voices are clearly familiar to each other and this makes for some distinctive harmonies; smooth and earthy tones entwine and it is refreshing to hear people unafraid to sing in total unison. In Fumes, L&M have created a truly unique album where each song has its own merit. While L&M may be characterised as folk, such a label may rob them of the larger audience they deserve and tracks such as ‘Fumes’ will go a long way in finding the ears of new listeners as their core folk sound breaches into pop, rock and something that is just good to listen to.
Lily & Madeleine know country rock inside out, and they're also aware of its capacities: on 'Fumes', they prove it can be mixed and mashed with its genre siblings, placed against more raucous indie rock tunes and even against brooding electronic excursions. In this sense, they remind me of R.E.M. in their 'Out Of Time' phase, devotional to something they know well but never held back by its exclusively traditional limitations. There's still urgency and a very contemporary kind of approach to a lot of these songs, with the wonderfully twee "Cabin Fever" recalling Hospitality in its juxtaposition of Sarah Records sweetness and foreboding, coarse guitar shimmers. These songs are unsettling even at their brightest, Lily & Madeleine singing in clandestine tones in which their melodies sound strangely, inexplicably dark. Maybe that's just because they're not singing about their fifth-favourite US State or the latest sermon from their Pastor, but 'Fumes' is a triumphant Asthmatic Kitty venture: it sounds mature and realised, the work of artists who can be expressive by merely folding their arms. Also, there's some banjo on "The Wolf is Free", so run with that.
18.11.14 Köln, Blue Shell
19.11.14 Berlin, Magnet
20.11.14 Hamburg, Kleiner Donner