For what appears to be a team that grows together, Lily & Madeleine have brought back producer Paul Mahern for album three, Keep It Together. He produced both their spare debut and the more expansive Fumes, and here they continue in the direction of more complex arrangements and diverse sounds (there's even a "sonic manipulation" credit). While electric guitars and echoey effects were introduced on Fumes, they're more pronounced on tracks like "For the Weak" and the dense and dreamy "Hotel Pool" to the point that the folk label may be routed. Elsewhere, the sophisticated "Not Gonna" offers strings in support of piano, bass, and drums, with extended chords providing a jazzy flair absent from prior releases. The sisters are joined on the album by several guest musicians, including touring bandmembers Shannon Hayden and Kate Siefker, both multi-instrumentalists who help bring a group sound to the effort. The aforementioned "For the Weak," for example, has rumbling, early rock tones and rhythms that achieve a classic girl group sound, if a modernized one. Later, "Small Talk" emits just a hint of '90s Weezer. However, Lily & Madeleine's distinctively warm voices and easygoing melodies are still the main course, and the magnified production works best on songs like "Chicago" and "Smoke Tricks," where the vocal melodies lead more impressionistic accompaniment. "Smoke Tricks" introduces glitchy electronic effects right alongside cello and hazy synths, but movement in the song is dictated by the vocal line. Both high-school graduates by the time of release (for less than a year in Lily's case), the record's lyrics still do -- and should -- reference prom night and getting wasted. They also tackle heartache and regret in line with their music's dissatisfied and melancholic tone, which has always seemed beyond their years. On Keep It Together, what they lose in intimacy with the amplified environment, they gain in musical maturity, which only seems fitting.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson