Golden Suits- “Golden Suits” [Self-Titled]

“Nicolaus has parlayed his life’s recent difficulties into a work that resonates beautifully.” -CB

Cameron Barham

out of 10

Golden Suits
Golden Suits [Self-Titled]
August 20, 2013
Yep Roc

Then it is dark; it is a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains.

― John Cheever, “The Country Husband” in The Stories of John Cheever

Suffering and pain are often the source and foundation of unique and mature artistic expressions. This is definitively the case on the self-titled first release from the Golden Suits which is the musical moniker for Fred Nicolaus (also of Department of Eagles) and a host of very talented friends from the likes of Grizzly Bear, Ava Luna, and Mason Jar. The songs that comprise this record were born of a tumultuous season in Nicolaus’ life in which he lost a host of things including a residence to a rat infestation, an important relationship to a difficult breakup, money, and weight. However, he found some creative solace in the writings of John Cheever, an award winning short-story writer and novelist who captured the duality of the human condition and life in the suburbs. From the ashes of his various loses and the foundation of Cheever’s inspiration, Nicolaus rose and responded with this wonderfully mature catharsis of 10 alt-pop songs in the vein of Death Cab for Cutie, Matt Pond PA, and Soft Swells.

The album opens with the catchy “Swimming in 99” with Nicolaus’ smooth-like-suede vocals strutting along with the marching bass-line and varied percussion over acoustic guitar. “Under Your Wing,” my personal favorite, provides the most interesting musical dynamic as Nicolaus begs, “Please tell me you need me, to stay right where I am, under your wing (3x’s), For a moment longer, keep me under your wing.” The most spare and palpable song is “Restaurant Song” that details the painful dissolution of a relationship. In this song, Nicolaus observes over lonely piano notes, “You don’t need me here, to pick apart your sins, I should leave you now, before I get sucked in, by your cold and lovely pride.” “Find a Way” goes on to examines the tricky terrain of maintaining a relationship in the midst of one’s own shortcomings: “Every word I say, is either borrowed, or broken in half, all I ever do is keep you waiting, how do you laugh?” Towards the close of the record in “Little One”, Nicolaus opines, “I never thought I’d be here, hiding tenderly, trapped inside our golden feeling, when all the world’s asleep, Oh little one, I’m in trouble again…”

The Golden Suits’ debut is a solid work of alt-pop art that plays like a series of short stories in which the characters are trying to deal with the shortcomings in themselves, in others, and in the combined relational circumstances. Nicolaus has parlayed his life’s recent difficulties into a work that resonates beautifully.

-Cameron Barham, August 20, 2013