Analogue Music | Lily & Madeleine - Canterbury Girls
Canterbury Girls

Canterbury Girls

Artist: Lily & Madeleine · Written by Matt Conner

Date Released

22 February, 2019


New West Records

If you have, at any point, been caught by the light of Lily & Madeleine, then you're going to love Canterbury Girls.

The sisters' fourth studio LP—and first since 2016's Keep It Together—largely inhabits the spaces previously carved out, musically and emotionally. Despite working apart from producer Paul Mahern for the first time, the new production team of Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk—the producers behind Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour—are seasoned enough to know to protect what works best.

For Lily & Madeleine, the core of their work has held a deep emotional resonance with their lovely vocal work as a sonic hallmark. Yes, the sonic palette has expanded over time, from earlier folk leanings to new electric or synthetic directions (think First Aid Kit), but they've always maintained an intimacy with the listener—even at their liveliest.

The closeness is felt immediately on Canterbury Girls as "Self Care" begins huddled around an old piano before slowly (and gracefully) unfolding to include some light guitar work, swirling harmonies and accompanying snare. The song's levity betrays the singer's heartache (or lack thereof) as she sings:

Your beautiful eyes are sad and scared
But I can't make myself care

Notice the wordplay. Enjoy the restraint. Consider this as an opening track. By the time the song comes back around to that lonesome piano, it's clear that the pairing of artist and producer is a match made in heaven—even if the song's actual subjects are rooted in more of a personal hell.

"Bruises" is arguably the heaviest song on the album, a song that pulses with an Annie Lennox feel and sings of the literal marks left of a life on the road. Even as Lily & Madeleine travel the world, old ghosts continue to haunt and leave their mark:

Looking at my skin, I don't know where to begin
Can you feel the fingerprints?
Thought I was over it, easier said than done
Quit fucking showing up

"Circles" introduces a painful sort of waltz, another maudlin musical moment as the girls sing of being "tangled in a dance with the man I hate." Along with "Go" and "Supernatural Sadness," these are, largely, songs about wrestling with some of the harsher realities of relationships and the road, chasing goals and striving to find some kind of home.

If that sounds a bit too morose, not to worry. The girls' have lots of practice at this particular (dark) art, enticing the listener to lean in, to sit with them (or vice versa) at moments when company would be most appreciated.

What also helps Canterbury Girls from crawling is the girls' ability to find light and life amid the questions and confusion of it all. The title track (and album's highlight) is a testimony to living in the moment:

Dancing moonlight muses all this time
I know there's a limit but I don't feel it, not tonight
Soaked in sunshine, don't know where to be
But if you're doin' what I'm doin', then we're free

The affecting title track, the driving "Pachinko Song," the charming "Analog Love"—these songs all provide the perfect respite to Canterbury's seriousness, even as they themselves remain grounded in reality. It's style hand-in-hand with substance. In other words, the very things we've come to expect from Lily & Madeleine all along.

Canterbury Girls is a triumph of an album and certainly the best in burgeoning catalog. I know there's a limit to what these sisters can do, but right now I just can't hear it—not tonight.

SITE: Lily & Madeleine