It’s fitting that Lime Cordiale‘s new EP begins with the rich, brassy timbre of a trombone. Indeed, it’s their frequent use of this – and other such instruments – that makes their jaunty brand of pop music so appealing. The EP is titled Road to Paradise and, while brass is no longer the focal point (as it often was in their early work), it remains a fundamental aspect of the Sydney band’s style and persona. Spider Legs illustrates this perfectly, weaving trombone into nimble piano licks and crashing cymbals. It’s a sign of Lime Cordiale’s progression, in terms of both maturity and musical aptitude.
Next comes lead single Hanging Upside Down, which hinted in February that future work may edge away from the horn section. It was probably this implication that made me so indifferent about the song. After all, Lime Cordiale without brass would be like Sam Smith without Disclosure: pretty bloody boring.
Fortunately, the horns remain, albeit shrouded by the rock-influenced direction brothers Oli and Louis Leimbach (the creative forces behind the band) have chosen to take with this release. Third track Other Ties is a prime exponent of this; a crisp bass line and restrained drumming craft a slick groove beneath the characteristic earthiness of Oli’s vocals. Yes, Lime Cordiale have been diluted – but that’s only made them tastier.
Compare Road to Paradise with 2012’s Faceless Cat EP and you’ll hear a remarkable development. Much credit must be afforded to producer Jean-Paul Fung, whose ongoing work with the band has yielded remarkable results. Formerly playful and boisterous stylings have largely given way to music more taut and controlled, but Lime Cordiale are best when the stems of these musical vines are interwoven. For this reason, Not That Easy is the pick of the bunch. Dynamic and irresistible, it displays all the entertaining qualities that Lime Cordiale have to offer, while demonstrating their newfound ability to produce polished, well-paced songs with depth and charisma.
The same can be said of Good from Far, in which the influence of fellow Sydney-siders Sticky Fingers is clearly audible. The result is a reggae-tinged track that, more than anything, highlights Lime Cordiale’s improving versatility and the variety of artists from which they draw inspiration.
Released in May, Feel Alright was the second single from the EP and rounds out this solid little collection of songs in an impressive fashion. If the preceding five tracks are the Road to Paradise, then surely this is the destination. Feel Alright is positively joyous; it’s a reminder that, for all the fine-tuning and high production values (and these have undoubtedly increased the calibre of their music), there’s nothing quite like a horn section.