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Speed Read: Lily And Madeleine

The homegrown sister act returns for a concert.

Indy’s breakout sister act may bump into Bill Murray at Brooklyn bars, but musicians Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz still forget sweatpants on the road, deal with rats, and have to stretch their budget in the Big Apple. After last month’s release of their fourth album, Canterbury Girls, the sisters come back for a show at Old National Centre on March 1.

Indy already knew them—now, so does everyone else. When the songstresses, then 16 and 19, dropped Lily & Madeleine in 2013, their debut album garnered raves from NPR, The New York Times, and other national tastemakers. From there, they toured with John Mellencamp and recorded a song featured in a John Green film, Paper Towns. Now, with the release of their fourth full-length album—the first where they controlled all the songwriting—this could be their moment.

The album, Canterbury Girls, was recorded in less than two weeks. The indie-pop record is named after Canterbury Park, just east of 56th Street and College Avenue, near where the duo grew up.

The haunting harmonies are getting all kinds of attention. Rolling Stone shouted out the album’s first single, a “melancholy new song” called “Self-Care.” A couple visiting New York City from the Philippines recognized the sisters on the subway. But the coolest for Lily was when she heard one of their songs come over the radio while in line at Starbucks. “I told the barista, ‘This is me!’” she says.

For the first time, the indie-pop duo controlled all of their songwriting.

Forget Empire. Think 2 Broke Girls. They moved to NYC early last year, but they aren’t exactly moguls just yet. When they’re not touring as an opening act for Mellencamp or doing guest vocals on his Ghost Brothers of Darkland County soundtrack, they’re living together in a tiny Brooklyn apartment above a bar, with a bedroom “that’s a foot longer and wider than my bed,” Lily says. “You can have the appearance of being famous, but still have no money,” Madeleine observes.

They’re still adjusting to life in a city 100 times more populous than Bloomington, where they recorded their first album. “Times Square is amazing,” Madeleine says. “I can’t believe humans made such an outrageous landmark.” But they also miss Hoosier hospitality. “I broke up with my boyfriend at a bar this summer, and I was openly crying, but no one was paying any attention,” Lily says. “I was like, Thank you for not looking at me, but also, I’m upset and nobody cares.

Calling it Canterbury Women might be more apt. Madeleine, 24, and Lily, 22, took more risks in their songwriting for these 10 tracks. “When we made [The Weight of the Globe] in 2012, I was 15 and had never written a song before,” Lily says. “There was nothing about romantic relationships or heartache on the last few, but those are definitely themes of this record.”

Deutschland is full of Lily & Madeleine diehards. At least, Spotify says so. According to the streaming service’s statistics, Germany is the sisters’ No. 1 fan base, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom. “We probably haven’t played Germany as much as we should’ve,” Lily says. “We need to get back there.”

They still haven’t caught Paper Towns. Just, you know, that movie that they recorded an earworm of a track for with Son Lux in 2015 (“Lost It to Trying”). It introduced the sisters to a mainstream national audience, but they weren’t camping out at the multiplex or anything. “Oh nooooo,” says Madeleine, “we still need to see it!”

Lily and Madeleine may not always be “Lily & Madeleine.” Both Jurkiewiczes say they might like to go solo—someday. But first, they just want to stop going stir-crazy. “People might think our life is super glamorous, but it sucks right now,” Madeleine says. “We’re just adding more tour dates, setting things up for our music video … I feel like a bump sitting on the computer all day.” Still, they definitely want to do at least one more album together after Canterbury Girls. Stay tuned.

 

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