Transcending the sing-song-y swing of its 12/8 rhythm, “Cut to the Chase” pays dividends with a chorus of unexpected heft and resolve. Although I’m not sure how, the chorus’s arresting, bottom-heavy power doubles back and sheds new light on a verse I might otherwise have heard as lightweight and vaguely generic; in its second iteration the verse, to my ears, now seems altered, deepened, without changing in any significant way. It’s almost like the aural equivalent of an optical illusion, effected by a band with an uncommon capacity for both strength and nuance.
The subtleties are what add up for me here. For one, there’s this appealing percussive sound that launches the song and weaves itself through the mix; I have no idea what it is but it has the sound of an electronic beat that someone is somehow playing acoustically. It’s very engaging. Then there’s the ever-so-slight instrumental addition in the verse the second time through, another elusive sound, this one landing on the ear halfway between a guitar and a keyboard. This addition is less obviously engaging but surely adds to the song’s developing allure. The best nuanced change of all, to my ears, is the bass line that gets added to the song’s opening guitar riff when it recurs at the end—a mysteriously fabulous supplement all the more fabulous because it was so theoretically unnecessary. The end result is a well-crafted, astutely-produced song that spreads out and breathes and feels almost like an anachronism here in our compressed, blinky-boopy mid-’10s musical landscape.
Fort Lean is a five-piece band from Brooklyn. “Cut to the Chase” has been floating around the internet for the better part of a year; the group’s debut LP, Quiet Day, was originally slated for a spring 2015 release, but just ended up coming out here in October, on the Brooklyn-based label Ooh La La Records. Thanks to the band for the MP3.