Cheap Suits - One Giant Leap
Release Date: July 4, 2006
Record Label: Unsigned
There comes a time in every musicians career when they must elevate themselves both musically, but creatively as well, in order to compete with the rhythmic stream of artists and bands alike launching themselves in the hungry music industry day after day. In the case of Toronto, Ontario's Cheap Suits, the experiment has not only been successful, but these five musicians have concocted a formula that not only hits the nail on the head on very possible attempt, but drives their message home in one of the most infectious, flavourful, and impressive ways we've seen from them yet. On One Giant Leap, the Suits satisfyingly retain the same enticing allurement we've seen from the beginning, but incorporate a sense of character to their sound that is unmatched by any other.
However, it's up to each listener as an idividual to decide for themselves whether this newborn sense of variety is appealing to them, or to be considered a destruction of the bands sound, as a whole. While the Cheap Suits have by no means abandoned their soul-influenced ska roots, it's anything but untruthful to say the upstrokes and dance-worthy rhythms can now be rightfully classified as few and far between. As matter of fact, the record itself opens with a slight step outside the box for the band, with their pop-punk gem "One Small Step." Musically, the leading anthem doesn't offer much in terms of breaking new ground or exploring far outside the bands backyard, but the energy and hooks are consistent enough, making the track enjoyable all the same. While this slight alteration to an already awe-inspiring recipe seems to be a consistent trend on One Giant Leap, this course of action is one which no listener should feel ashamed to appreciate at any moment.
From article to article, and columnist to columnist, the Cheap Suits have always been regarded as an act whom have apparently fashioned the flawless equation, and while the result on their latest effort is far from perfect, the band does everything in their power to actively satisfy listeners. One of the most impressive aspects about the product itself is the quality of lead vocalist Chris "Fatty" Collins' voice. Chris, whose voice is soulful to the last note, has never been presented in a more appealing fashion, which adds to the extensive list of captivating features the Cheap Suits dispense to those who hold their catalogue in their hands. Additionally, the bands sound has never seemed so complete, and that's strikingly impressive from a ska band without a single horn player to be found. Each of these five musicians shine respectfully, and the end result is a radio friendly mix of James Brown-inspired ska anthems, and a handful of worthy power-pop ballads to boot. "Two Tone Town", a bouncy tribute (featuring guest vocals by Mista D, the frontman of one of Canada's most well-reknowned bands, The Salads) to the bands home ["Get up, get down! Toronto is a two-tone town!"], is undoubtedly one of the most absorbing offerings Leap offers listeners. "Gainesville", on the other hand, is a slower, organ-driven adventure that will assuredly get listeners blood pumping.
But, in a world where ska bands are often looked down upon by the masses for their careless, childish outlook on their surroundings, and equally for the way it's presented in terms of written material, how do the Cheap Suits stack up? It's evident that these Toronto natives feel no need to bind themselves to genre-specific stereotypes, as they inject their messages of anti-racism, equality, and other world issues, and proudly stand behind their beliefs at every stop. Yet, the Cheap Suits don't always feel inclined to perform at a political standpoint, such as on "Ska Saves" (a fan-favoruite, sing-along making its second appearance within the bands discography), where they pay tribute to their own musical territory which rescued them from the world. Regardless of where the Cheap Suits inspiration may come from, the bands written words have never been more meaningful, with tales of heartbreak, failed relationships, and love for the people around them.
However, when it all boils down and the curtains close, the Cheap Suits will remain as one of the most accomplished, engaging underground bands the world has ever laid eyes upon, and while this Leap may not be the furthest music has seen before, it's crystal clear that the bands aim was steady. If listeners are prepared to take a chance on an album, and walk into the experience with an open mind and an open heart, they very well may discover a disc that will earn itself the greatest possible praise amongst their collection. But, even if One Giant Leap doesn't blow their competitors out of the water, the Cheap Suits have created a solid effort they should be proud of. I can truthfully say I've never been more inspired to make myself a better man.