Golden Suits (Fred Nicolaus) - Self-TItled CD Review (Yep Rec Records) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Golden Suits (Fred Nicolaus) - Self-TItled CD Review (Yep Rec Records)

Golden Suits (Fred Nicolaus) - Self-TItled CD Review (Yep Rec Records)
Golden Suits is the “nom de rock” of Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Fred Nicolaus, who is best known for being one-half of the band Department of Eagles (along with Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen). Department of Eagles’ last disc, In Ear Park (2008), was awarded ‘Best New Music by Pitchfork and made The New York Times’ year-end top ten lists but Nicolaus seems to have kept a low profile over the last few years. Earlier this year, he announced his first solo disc, under the name Golden Suits, which comes out today on Yep Roc Records. The music on Golden Suits’ self-titled debut is thinking man’s indie-rock (with just slight hints of cinematic chamber-pop) as the disc’s ten songs combines multi-layered instrumentation with lyrics that touch on nostalgia, skewed references to a John Cheever book about suburban marriage in the 1950s, personal confessions and sentimentality.

This new disc was written and recorded over the last two years and Nicolaus plays almost all the instruments himself. The songs on Golden Suits were the outgrowth of a strange year that saw Nicolaus get chased out of an apartment by a rat infestation, go through a painful breakup, travel to Germany to learn about his grandfather’s death in WWII, go broke, and lose forty pounds. Throughout that chaotic time, he became obsessed with a book of short stories by the fiction writer John Cheever, and started writing songs that blended his own experiences with fragments from the book. Cheever’s short story, “The Country Husband”, which is where the reference to ‘golden suits’ comes from, ‘reveals suburbia's darker side -- the side which traps its residents in a web of conformity’ (from A similar outlook on the fallacies of the ‘American dream’ is found in Nicolaus’ lyrics but this darkness is almost completely buried beneath the even-keeled precision of the disc’s shimmering pop.

The disc starts on a strong note with the catchy “Swimming in 99”, which is an swirling, upbeat number with driving percussion, handclaps and twisting guitar lines. Some of the other notable numbers on the disc include “Restaurant Song”, which is a mournful piano ballad, and “Find A Way”, which is a “John Lennonish” pop song with some great melodies and hooks. The disc goes out with “Dearly Beloved”, which is memorable for its orchestral instrumentation, angular guitar lines, cinematic backing vocals and accompanying female harmonies on the song’s chorus (presumably sung by Becca Kauffman and Felicia Douglass from Ava Luna). Other guests on the record include Chris Bear and Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear; Fraser McCulloch from Milagres (who engineered the album); Kris Nolte and Ian Davis from Mason Jar Music (who arranged strings); and Daniel Rossen (who sang harmonies and was an all-around supportive spirit).

Golden Suits is more than just a studio project as they are playing a show in London on August 28th at The Slaughtered Lamb (…I’m trying very hard not to make “An American Werewolf in London” joke).

Golden Suits