Lime Colony’s self-titled release is an example of an album that is better than the sum of its parts—what it lacks in truly memorable melodies or vocals, it more than makes up for in intelligent, intricate instrumental arrangements. This is music that will grow on you. In fact, the whole album grows, beginning in its first track (“Terry’s Theme”) with some very simple guitar strumming; a second guitar is added, then a horn, a saxophone, percussion, until it builds into a beautiful, layered instrumental track—witih definite echoes of contemporary folk master Bela Fleck—before quietly fading back out.
In this way, each track builds on and develops from the last. The autumnal imagery and bittersweetness of “A Breezy Leaf” gives way to the more downbeat and snowflake-heavy “When No One’s There To See”; the first song describes death, the second, the dissonance and disconnection in a relationship. Nature, artificiality, death, rebirth, the cycling of the seasons, and the crumbling of connections (perhaps most blatantly acknowledged in the bonus track, “When the Bridge Was Down”) are ideas and themes that recur and intertwine throughout all of these songs.
The next three pieces meld together: in “Lightning Strike,” the narrator describes lying in bed after his wife or girlfriend committed suicide. The song builds with electric guitars and drums, and segues into “Terry’s Theme II,” which echoes the first track’s melody, replacing the organic guitars and horns with militant snares and synthesizers, a bittersweet electronic answer to the acoustic opener. As this piece climaxes, the next song, “Throw,” begins: “Wake up,” and again, out of death comes rebirth. “Throw” is another painful song (“All you do,” says the chorus, “is throw me away/All you do is toss me by the wayside”) but there is the possibility of reconciliation; the lyrics play with the “makeup” that conceals, and the chance to “make up”–to tear down artificiality and reconnect.
The final four songs hearken back to the first half of the album, developing the album’s melodic and lyrical themes even as the album fades away back into silence, like musical chiasmus. “Left Upright” is one of the most melancholy songs on the disc—quiet, with effective use of horns. “Making Nice” begins as a catchy, clever pop-rock tune, with more than a hint of BNL (“I know everything there is to know about Freddy Kreuger and Jason/She said, ‘You don’t need to know that, it’s useless information”), before building into something a bit more serious and sincere, as angst and longing creep in and the hook-heavy guitars are replaced with swelling strings. The track concludes with perhaps the most rousing instrumental passage on the album (before, again, stripping back to the basics—the crescendo and decrescendo, rising and falling, are at the heart of this album’s musical structure).
“Perfectly Annoying” begins with an accordion—redemptive, gentle major chord changes mirroring the closing moments of “Making Nice”. This is the most upbeat track on the album, bringing back the “makeup” motif, and ends with a final, feel-good reprise of “Terry’s Theme”.
Finally, “Houdini” closes things out—maybe the best single on the album, with a simple, sad melody and vocals, terrific lyrics (“Stop trying to be Houdini, it’s not working out/The rabbit is dead in your hands, disappointing your fans, Houdini”), some lovely fingerpicking guitar, and a mournful violin. It’s Lime Colony’s saddest song, appropriately coming after their happiest, tying things up with an appropriate and palpable bittersweetness.
While Lime Colony sometimes lacks polish—there are a few buzzing guitars, and perhaps the album’s greatest weakness is that the vocals rarely reach the expressive level of the instrumentals—at its best, especially in the instrumental breaks and builds and ebbs and tides, this group on par with the greatest indie-folk-rock bands, and this is an incredibly mature, complex, and professional album for a group so young and relatively unknown. I definitely recommend it to any fans of the genre, and Lime Colony is a group well worth watching.
Lime Colony: A-