Album of the Week: Lime Cordiale teach us a thing or two on 14 Steps to a Better You (2020 LP)

I have a vivid memory of a friend messaging me one day asking if I knew who Lime Cordiale were. This was in about 2014 when we were both getting into using Twitter. I was using it on the back of a Uni assignment, and he was using it to follow the NBA.

Anyway, my mate screenshot his followers page, and rather than tweeting me, sent me a message absolutely bemused as to why a sugary water based drink would follow him. Being the bearer of bad news, I explained that they were a band from the Northern Beaches of Sydney. He was instantly less excited. While he wasn’t overly stoked on possibly missing out on a life time supply of Cottee’s cordial, this was the time I ever so slowly began to take notice of the Leimbach brothers and their relaxed brand of surf rock.

And it’s here, with their return on 14 Steps to a Better You, that Lime Cordiale have continued their steady rise throughout the Australian music hierarchy.

On the back of a solid 2019 where they slowly teased out a more progressive and grown up sound, 14 Steps slowly grew into the consciousness of just about anyone who loves a toned down and cruisy time and/or tune.

One of the first things you notice of 14 Steps is that it is not misleading at all with its title. Clocking in at 14 tracks and 55 minutes, it is a long listen, but hardly taxing. In a time where attention spans are shorter than ever, you’d expect listening to 14 songs back-to-back as part of one body of work to be a little tedious.Fortunately for you and me, Lime Cordiale definitely know how to write a catchy hook that will get stuck in your head days at a time.

“That’s Life” opens  up the album with its instant preset keyboard opening riff. It ponders on the absolute uncertainty of life and the thought that maybe you’d be better off just rolling with the punches if given the chance. The groove laden “Robbery” is an early highlight and notable single from the band. It has an unusual level of reassurance, as the band embraces a level of swagger that only increases with the subtle use of horns throughout.

While not groundbreaking in its lyrical content, “Robbery” will steal a place in your head for the foreseeable future. The downbeat Sunday morning hangover cure “No Plans to Make Plans”, with its kazoo solo, is the song you just know the band included as a subtle dig at that one person we all know who is way too self involved and selfish.

The one-two punch of “Inappropriate Bheaviour” and “Addicted to the Sunshine” are equal parts charming, earnest and seeking of only the best of times. They’re the types of songs that I’m genuinely surprised haven’t been picked up by a fast food company trying to spruik some type of  meal deal they’ve got going (like putting pineapple on a burger and calling it the ‘Summer Slammer’ or something like that. You know what I mean).

“On Our Own” is a personal favourite and a track that has a nostalgic tinge to it, as the listener harks back to being young, careless and not in a world of repetitive levels of lockdown. The dub influenced “Screw Loose” is chaotic at times, but probably one of the only time on 14 Steps that the band tries to make a credible move away from the sound they’ve created on the previous eight songs of the album.

The tender “Elephant in the Room”, with its piano lead, is calm throughout its entirety and that song you’d be alright with waking up to as the sun peaks through the blinds on a brisk winter morning. Just like “Elephant in the Room”, “Dirt Cheap” is breezy from start to finish, as the brothers’ harmonies come to the forefront over the closing minute.

Entering the closing moments of the album, “Dear London” is a grown up take on a relationship breakdown disguised as a genuine dislike for an overly busy major world city that also left this reviewer completely underwhelmed during the 10 days he spent there in 2015. It’s a subtle but entirely great track.

As 14 Steps to a Better You is a surprising near hour of self growth, it closes out with “Following Fools”, a song written about growing to love yourself irrespective of your faults.

It’s a mature take from a band that very easily could have trotted out much of the same that they’ve become known for. And yes, while there are times that the album sounds like it’s the same song on repeat, there’s enough here to suggest Lime Cordiale are more than just everyone’s favourite after school treat of post mixed sweetened water.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Lime Cordiale’s new album 14 Steps to a Better You is out now.

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