Earlier this month, the Australian alternative band duo Lime Cordiale and Idris Elba (famed actor and People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2018) released a six-song EP called Cordi Elba. Despite his big name in Hollywood, Elba has had a long history in the music industry that dates back to the 1990s, when he was a DJ in his native London.
Lime Cordiale — which consists of brothers Louis and Oli Leimbach — were looking to feature an artist in their new music, and Elba answered the call. This seemingly unlikely team first worked together in Lime Cordiale’s 2021 song “Unnecessary Things,” with Elba performing a series of rap verses during a concert. Their collaboration continues in Cordi Elba, evidencing some clear creative chemistry between the two artists.
In the dead of winter, Cordi Elba delivers the feeling of summer. The EP as a whole invites listeners to dive into Lime Cordiale’s Southern Hemisphere and allows us to bask in its warm weather. This ambiance is perfect to listen to considering our conditions in Santa Barbara: moderate temperatures coupled with a merciless sun. Each of Cordi Elba’s songs are startlingly unique, but altogether it delivers a sense of carefree weightlessness that encourages feelings of both calm and energy.
The mini-album shows how these artists are unafraid to be real; they can be down-to-earth and deep, while simultaneously delivering boppy tunes. Opening with the upbeat “Apple Crumble,” complete with clever wordplay and melodious piano, Cordi Elba starts with their lightest foot forward. They entreat listeners to share in the fun they had crafting this EP, setting a bright and nonchalant tone for the rest of the album. “What’s Not to Like” further illustrates their chemistry as artists.
It excels lyrically, and close listeners can hear the sense of desperate exasperation that underlies the titular question, especially given the context of fame. “What’s Not to Like” is the most self-aware song on this track; it features lines relating to Elba’s Luther role and includes an interjection of dialogue between Louis, Oli, and Idris, as they discuss what’s not to like about themselves (Idris and Louis are at a loss, while Oli concludes he’s “sure there’s a few things”). Regardless of their light joking and banter, the song is an important reframing and recontextualization of self-love and awareness.
“Holey Moley” is an easy earworm with a beat that doesn’t disappoint. The song resembles those of electronic music giants like Daft Punk—a clear reference to Elba’s connection to the European DJ scene. The verses are rife with catchy rhymes and alliterative lyrics that are near-therapeutic coming from Idris Elba. His voice is distinctive and beautiful and — most importantly — versatile, all of which is paramount to the success and uniqueness of the mini-album as a whole.
The EP closes off with a re-recording of “Unnecessary Things,” which was in a previous Lime Cordiale album, now including Idris Elba. It’s a lot softer than much of the rest of the EP, clearly contrasting the mini album’s spiffy, “Apple Crumble” start. Still, “Unnecessary Things” is anything but a sleepy song. While calmer, there is tension as the verses build-up to each chorus, all the unnecessary things seeming to pile up on these artists.
This mini-album functions as a concise delivery of sentiments and as an explosion of the creative expression that occurs when stars collide. Cordi Elba is a well-executed collaborative EP because these artists know how to balance: They explore the dualities and complexities of a chill vibe and create an immensely grounded track. It is an undeniably mixed bag of alternative tunes that, in their differences, is a testament to the versatility of the alternative genre.
One of the often-overlooked aspects of alternative music is that it so naturally pulls from other genres — and this EP expresses this beautifully. Songs like “Ditto” and “Holiday” pull from soft-rock, while “Holey Moley” draws from rap, and “Apple Crumble” from pop — but nevertheless, they all fit together. Cordi Elba is a conglomeration of these distinct flavors of alternative music — all complementing each other for a complete and balanced collaboration.