Album Review
Cheap Suits - Canadian Idles Album Cover

Cheap Suits - Canadian Idles

Reviewed by
Cheap Suits - Canadian Idles
Release Date: May 11, 2003
Record Label: Unsigned

If there's one flaw in the music industry that turns me off of engaging myself in new music, it's the plethora of bands who are unwilling to take chances. How can any musical act expect to deserve even the smallest bit of credit and recognition if all they can manage to do is churn out the same album that we've heard a million times before? Now, don't get me wrong, I've never been one to whisk away bands who decide to follow a cookie-cutter, tried and tested formula that has proven successful in the past, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. However, in the case of Toronto, Ontario's Cheap Suits, a course of action that I find myself addicted to is set in stone, and continuously performed at a level of deepest admiration until the records closing seconds. With their second full-length, Canadian Idles, the Cheap Suits finalize their recipe that was concocted in their earliest days, which can be heard developing in the bands previous work, and more or less, give ska fans something to rave about.

Yet, while so many ska bands can't be deemed worthy enough to write home about, listeners will instantly realize there's something special about the Cheap Suits, and that's something they can applaud themselves for. The fact, alone, that the band is able to perform within the genre so well without the inclusion of a horn section, a quality many listeners have assumed as a must-have, is worthy of significantly roaring applause. But, while the third-wave is packed to the brim with bands feigning sub-par imitations of the likes of Reel Big Fish or Less Than Jake, the Cheap Suits are able to draw influences from less populated areas, creating a unique, radio-friendly sound of their own. It's entirely evident that the band takes more influence from James Brown or the Maytals than the likes of Rancid or Operation Ivy, which is most notable in lead vocalist Chris Collins' voice. Collins' vocals are soulful, yet edgy and raw enough to satisfy any listener, making Idles the perfect fit for any record collection.

The album opens with "We Aim High", a rough, pop-punk gem lyrically based on the concept of unity. The track title and lyrics combined should give any audience a crystal-clear view of the band's goals, and more specifically where they'd like to take their career, and even moreso their message. While the opening track may not be the best example of the band's sound as a whole, the energy is prominent enough to set the record off with a blazing start. But, where would any release be without the single, standout jewel that allows a band to make a name for themselves? For the Cheap Suits, this necessity appearly very early in the record, in the form of the third track "Ska Saves." I could sit here for hours describing the personal restraint one will have to muster in order to not find themselves singing and dancing along to this gold mine, but with the rate at which single tracks hit the airwaves these days, it's likely your knowledge of infectious hooks is fairly strong already.

However, while many albums pump out that one song that is worthy of the public eye, only to follow it with a handful of mindless filler, the Cheap Suits prove to audiences that they are more than just a "one hit wonder." Additional album highlights include the quirky "Lead Singer", a comedic masterpiece based around the mistake of taking Taylor Hanson (yes, the lead singer of pop-trio Hanson) as a female and falling deeply in love with him, as well as "Fatty's Lament", "Moving Day", and "Another Song About Girls", which are all solid offerings from the group. One of the most appealing factors of Canadian Idles beauty, though, is undoubtedly the neat, innovative hooks each track awe-inspiringly pronounces. There are no offerings that will make you extend your finger to the fast forward button, but instead, sixteen servings that will become eventually become stuck on repeat.

But, to follow-up my original statement, where's the spark that sets the Cheap Suits apart from the flood of acts trying to make their move? In words, it's hard to describe, but i'll do my best. There's a simple, yet intricate flair found within the band's sound that will keep this album on repeat. I could sit and dig into the band's sound all day, but the babble-worthy essence is found just as sharply on the surface as it is buried in the groups inner workings, so I'd advise you to take my word for it or make your own, personal judgement. It's quite possible that my affection has much to do with the way the band perfectly performs tracks from genre to genre, and so effortlessly, as well, might I add, or the fact that the group has a generated a ska offering that is so enjoyable, but whatever the cause, I'm a ways beyond satisfied.

When it all boils down in the end, handfuls of positive statements surrounding the Cheap Suits can be bellowed, but I'll keep this conclusion short and sweet. From the opening seconds to the moment this release's curtains close, you'll find yourself singing along with every track, and you just might get a decent physical workout while you're at it. While these musicians may not have reached idol status yet, these Canadians are certainly set on anything but Idle.

For Fans OfCheap Suits, The Toasters, James Brown, Desmond Dekker, and Sublime
This review is a user submitted review from Brandon Allin. You can see all of Brandon Allin's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 6 of 6
07:58 PM on 07/03/06
regret would require less arrogance
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GoodTimes's Avatar
so if i'm a fan of cheap suits then i'll like cheap suits?
08:06 PM on 07/03/06
Brandon Allin
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Brandon Allin's Avatar
Originally Posted by GoodTimes
so if i'm a fan of cheap suits then i'll like cheap suits?
04:22 AM on 07/04/06
Registered User
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Alabama's Avatar
uaaah, I have to get this cd!! Why do they have to be canadians that no record store here has ever heard of.. and they neither have it at interpunk : ( I think I'm about to cry..
05:02 AM on 07/04/06
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No Avatar Selected
alabama, you can order the cds online through our website. just go to cheapsuits.ca and there's a link on the home page to go to Maple Music (our online distributor) you can get it there. its safe and the Maple Music people are friendly
06:12 AM on 07/04/06
Registered User
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Alabama's Avatar
hmm yes, I know about that, but I don't think the shipping costs will be anywhere near low.. It's always so expensive to ship to europe.. and to pay 15 dollars extra for one cd.. : (

edit: I just checked, it says, the album is currently unavailable..

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