SXSW Guest Review: Lime Cordiale: Catchy but not catching fire

While at SXSW last month, there emerging writers from around the world were invited to head along to watch show featuring an Australian artist. Our final writer, Ryan Rhea, looks back on his experience watching Sydney’s Lime Cordiale for the first time.

In a time when too many bands are mere reflections of a trend—pop-era Kings of Leon comes to mind—Lime Cordiale showed the promise of stepping out of the shadows during a recent Austin performance. The trio have come a long way from the Northern Sydney beaches and house parties of their youth, kicking off their first American tour at SXSW.

Hosted by Australia House, one of Austin’s many nationally themed venues (think of an Epcot of bars and clubs), Lime Cordiale’s compelling set of pop rock, backed by thunderous drumming, presented a band at the crossroads of young manhood, still grappling for significance.

Centering on two weather-worn brothers, Louie and Ollie Leimbach (where the “Lime” of their name comes from), Lime Cordiale’s debut Permanent Vacation presents a slice of the brothers’ life in Sydney and beyond—exploring a desire not to grow up while others around them are. Although they navigate the occasional argument (always good-naturedly and within a half hour, says Ollie), the brothers work it out in comfortable, well-crafted tunes. But that lingering youth still mires their songwriting in strained, clichéd lyrics and an inability to tap into more visionary musical realms.

Thankfully, the savvy pop instincts of the group yielded melodies infectious enough to connect with the crowd on songs like ‘Naturally’ and ‘Temper Temper,’ as gentle phrasing was cast over a pounding rhythmic foundation. Louie sings with a rich, slippery timbre, writhing around the stage, eyes rolling back into his head, while the bright groove and high backing vocals of guitarist Ollie pull it all through.

On ‘Giving Yourself Over,’ about a friend who has let a romantic relationship take priority over friends, Louie sings “I see it in your wide eyes/A deer in the headlights/I try and find the upside.” Hardly profound, especially when he sings “Now I drink alone/But do you even maker her moan,” but mildly compelling in its honesty. The set closed with Louie wildly laughing and shrieking into the mic, an inconsequently youthful expression at best.

The carefree nature of their lifestyle underlies Lime Cordiale’s songs with a lack of intensity. Moving forward, the brothers Lime say they hope to address environmental issues in their music. Hopefully that music can be infused with the same kick as their message.

Ultimately, Lime Cordiale’s music is intended to be catchy more than it is to catch fire. With a lot of space to grow as songwriters and performers, it will be interesting to see if they add greater depth to their music. But on the strength of a rousing performance in Austin, it’s worth hoping for.

Get our ears around the Lime Cordiale tunes at limecordiale.com