Title: 14 Steps to a Better You
Artist: Lime Cordiale
Label: Chugg Music / London Cowboys
Genre: Alternative / Indie
Released: 10 June 2020
14 steps to a better you
“When you've got love for you
You stop following fools”
Self help books have become a global phenomenon over the last few years. From Jordan Peterson’s “10 rules for life”, to the immensely popular “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck” by Mark Manson; the market for life-advice has seemed to have skyrocketed recently. And with the current state of the world, both socially and financially, I don’t particularly see that trend dying down any time soon. The title of Lime Cordiale’s latest album “14 Steps to a Better You” seems to cater to this market in acting as a sort of musical self-help book. And although the record itself is a bit less of a straight concept-album than its name might suggest, it’s still a solid indie-rock release from the Sydney-based duo.
This isn’t to say the album has nothing to say on the matter of self-improvement. Many of the tracks here deal particularly with themes of angst in relationships; recognising toxicity and leaving it behind to move onto bigger and better things. It’s all relatively implicit from a life-advice perspective, however I think on the whole lyrically the album does a good job of using these stories of relationship difficulties and heartbreak to simply imply the album’s ‘steps’. An example of this is in the track ‘Inappropriate Behaviour’, which depicts an argument the narrator is having with his partner over a manipulative friend. Although there isn’t any explicit moral given, it’s clear that Lime Cordiale is simply using a scenario to imply broader themes such as signalling unhealthy relationships. This is how most of the album works. And it works pretty well.
“It’s just inappropriate behaviour
To put those ideas in your head
Anyway to sway you in her favour
Madness is the love that I'm gonna get”
From a musical standpoint, the album is really well composed and produced. It sounds really solid the whole way through, and there aren’t really any dips in quality throughout. Instead, however, “14 Steps” does suffer a fair bit simply because of its length. There are some clear standout songs in the tracklist, such as the aforementioned ‘Inappropriate Behaviour’, as well as ‘Robbery’ and ‘Money'. But most of the content here isn’t hugely varied, and the 55-minute runtime makes the album start to wane throughout its second half. As I said, there aren’t any actual drops in quality that I could particularly find; it’s just that the lack of musical variety does slowly start to shift the album into background music, even as I was paying close attention. I feel that if this had instead been condensed down to “8 or 9 steps to a better you”, it might have made for a more consistently engaging listen. Either this, or the album would need to make up for its length by diversifying it’s sound more. As it is, “14 Steps” works far better as a singles album than a full listening experience.
The album does also have the hurdle to jump of fitting into such a saturated style of music, but I think Lime Cordiale somewhat manage to differentiate themselves from the crowd. There are clear influences, but the duo seems to be fully aware of this. ‘Robbery’ sounds like a playful Cat Empire track, and many other songs echo the zeitgeist of Australian indie pop-rock that has been popularized over the last decade. Strangely enough I even get some Alex Turner vibes from the vocals, but that might just be me. However once again, the length of the record becomes a bit of an issue; as the lack of variety within the album, as well as its overall homogenous sound, make it a little less of a substantial listen than I think it could have been.
“You got a screw loose
You never see the light of day
You got a screw loose
Will you ever sit right again”
That being said, this is still an enjoyable listen. Even if it sounds fairly derivative of its contemporary indie background and outstays its welcome just a bit in its latter half, it’s still a really likeable album. And these main criticisms don’t really diminish the music itself; more the album as a whole is never quite as solid as the sum of its parts. Fans of the band will most likely be extremely satisfied with this release, since its pretty consistent in its delivery of solid indie-pop singles. I just don’t think that “14 Steps” is varied or engaging enough to hold anyone else’s attention for a full 55 minutes. Which is fine; there’s still a lot to like here. Although the album may not function as a go-to self-improvement guide like the title might suggest, it still has a handful of decent tracks that make for a fun and relaxing listen. And In the end, “14 Steps” delivering an easy, laid-back experience might just be some of the life advice a lot of us need right now.
“Let's waste some time, alright
We're here 'til we die, that's life”
Reviewed by Layton Bryce - 17/07/2020