Lime Cordiale strike gold in uncharted territory on their debut LP Permanent Vacation

My knowledge of Lime Cordiale, the band fronted by Louis and Oli Leimbach, two brothers from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, is about a week old. I’d heard that their debut album had just been released and that it was worth checking out. It also coincided with my search for a new band to review.

So, I dove into their Spotify and made notes as I traced Lime Cordiale’s journey, from 2012 up until now.

lime cordiale interview dani hansen happy mag
Photo: Dani Hansen

While Permanent Vacation plainly sees Lime Cordiale wander into unknown territory, it’s difficult to fault their innovative edge.

From what my friends tell me, Lime Cordiale, at the time of their first EP Faceless Cat, were a band with some good songs and a tongue-in-cheek nature that you’d see propping up on line-ups at a slew of festivals. With whimsical melodies, the clean-tone guitars and a sound a bit similar to Paolo Nutini, I can see how music fans around Sydney identified with the two brothers, as their songs captured the zeitgeist of growing up in laid-back beachside suburbs brilliantly.

When Falling Up The Stairs was put out in 2013, the tone shifted. Songs like Famous and Everything Else seemed more pensive, with lyrics about the insecurities of relationships and the monotonous routine of adulthood. Sonically, the music was getting more somber, too.

By the time third EP Road To Paradise was released in 2015, Louis and Oli had married those buoyant rhythms and easy-as-pie hooks from their earliest songs, with melodies and instrumentation that were more dynamic, showing promise for what was next to come.

There is no doubt that Permanent Vacation, recorded between January and May this year under the stewardship of Thundamentals and Megan Washington producer Dave Hammer, is their best work.

I’ve now listened to the album about three or four times from beginning to end (probably another two times by the time I finish writing this review) and the songs are interesting, catchy, and extremely layered. However, what strikes me the most about this record is the influence a great producer like Hammer has had. There’s nothing subtle about the way he has embellished these songs. With new textures and juicier hooks, the album is far more accomplished than any of Lime Cordiale’s previous releases.

“Dave was exceptional at pulling out exactly what we wanted in our sound,” remarked Oli. “Right from the start, he’d ask us what we wanted the sound to be, and his job was to not let anything get in the way of us realising that.”

Opener Naturally shows the old and new Lime Cordiale intertwining in harmony. The uncomplicated chord progression played in its familiar offbeat rhythm locks in a dance with the vocals before the hook hits and, bang on the 30 second mark, the album arrives.

After lead single Temper Temper, catchy and abrasive with howling falsettos, the first real crowning moment is Risky Love. Even though a song about dating a girl behind the back of her macho boyfriend might sound facetious, from beginning to end it feels sincere, with strings droning underneath soft piano and, when the verse enters, the vocals flow over the drums in a Drake or Post Malone kind of way.

“Your awful mind is after me, we’ve been acting so care-free, it’s risky love” goes the chorus, at which point Hammer coats on additional strings plus a couple of wailing guitars and the song’s prowess is certified.

While the album marks an undeniable progression of Lime Cordiale’s sound, fans of that summer-soaked festival band that have enjoyed the no frills, hold-my-beer-while-I-get-up-and-dance-to-this-one tunes ever since Faceless Cat shouldn’t feel alienated. What Is Growing Up? marks one of the biggest sing-a-longs on the album and it will undoubtedly be a highlight in Lime Cordiale’s set when they hit the road later this month. Same goes for Can I Be Your Lover?, which struts with unassailable indie swagger, wearing a motown grin.

Wherever the trajectory that began five years ago takes them, there’s no doubt the next instalment for Lime Cordiale is going to generate some serious excitement.