I don’t know about you, but the past two years have been pretty awful, what with pandemics and blighted putrescent politicians injecting that little extra layer of pain with their hypocritical and commerce fueled anti-arts approach to salvation. And then along comes something like ‘Cordi Elba’ which, while not a complete antidote, does apply a much needed sonic salve. While Idris Elba has many bows in his quiver beyond his very fine acting (he is a DJ, musician and record label boss), you really don’t associate him with poptastic music of this ilk, and therefore his collaboration with one of Australia’s finest exponents of intelligent indie dance music Lime Cordiale seems something quite out of the blue.
And it cannot be stressed enough: this in no novelty collaboration. Both parties bring something substantial to the table: Elba, his witty dry lyricism and sonorous tone, Lime Cordiale their adept pop sensibilities and combined they bring a sense of humour and optimism that emanates pure sunshine.
Oli Leimback from Lime Cordiale (one half of the duo along with brother Louis Leimbach) says:
We wrote everything together. We were all writing lyrics – it wasn’t our music or his music, it was smack bang down the middle with every lyric.
I wanted to collaborate. We agreed about the vibe and the song was there. They were really open to ideas; it was an opportunity for me to write songs I normally wouldn’t write. Ultimately, this is a step into a new universe musically for me.
One listen to the results removes any doubt whatsoever about such an unprecedented coupling. Elba brings a cheeky chappie persona to the music with his laconic charm and wit – I am reminded of Madness sometimes in the delivery, inflected as it is with a droll cockney twang – and his vocals are diamond encrusted velvet: an element of barbed-wire roughage added to a smooth and luxurious tenor. Lime Cordiale are purveyors of indelible dance-inflected pop. The mix results in an explosive chemistry that can barely be contained in one dimension.
It’s almost too cool and loveable to bear – but an utterly enjoyable pop collaboration that is anthemic, melodic and filled with such a sense of joy.
Opening track ‘Apple Crumble’ is a rollickingly jovial ditty that is inane and utterly droll but surely the best medicine available for our times. There is an Ian Dury and the Blockheads carnival bounce to the track with its nursery rhyme styling and repeating melodies.
‘Holey Moley’ is a reggae-inflected self-deprecatory ramble – hole moley I’m sh!t-faced all the time – a hilarious psychedelic wandering journey through the mind of someone wallowing in self pity and misery.
The pace picks up with the defiant ‘What’s Not To Like’. Elba says of the track:
It’s a song about finding who you really are and not chasing who you think people want you to be. It is a driver’s seat singer classic.
The unbridled pop mechanics of this single are euphoric and illustrious with it’s singalong choruses and suave delivery.
‘Ditto’ brings a soulful inflection with Idris at his most lugubrious and sensual with a stabbing instrumentation while ‘Holiday’ is a laid back strum and Idris’s voice at the fore above a restrained acoustic strum with hilarious vocal interludes and a soulful choir.
‘Cordi Elba’ is a pocketful of sunshine and radiates utter joy through its louch and witty delivery and hyperkinetic style.
Feature Photograph: Tim Swallow