Fred Nicolaus offers his first folk-based, but pop-oriented solo effort, the self-titled Golden Suits - and the album finds the singer-songwriter cultivating the same kind of intimacy that he creates in Department of Eagles, but with help from Grizzly Bear member Daniel Rossen.

Lyrically, the album sounds deeply personal while often maintaining a classic pop song structure, which definitely adds a little much needed emotional weight to the style. Nearly every chorus on Golden Suits is catchy, but not at the expense of the actual lyrics - there does not really seem to be an empty line anywhere to be found on this album.

The album's knack for a more literate pop song structure seems to be exemplified on tracks like 'You Can't Make Your Mind Up', in which Nicolaus suggests that "no, it doesn't get easier the longer you go / it only gets old / but I know, I know you can't make your mind up," while playing some really melancholy piano chords. The song also features some driving, rhythmic finger snaps and hand claps which create for the track the illusion of being far more upbeat than its subject should allow.

Golden Suits also demonstrates a keen ear for arrangement. However, this might be overlooked until one listens to 'Restaurant Song' for the first time, as the song is made up of piano and vocals only. This contrasts greatly with every moment on the album prior to this and really draws attention to this fact. The obvious deviation is pointed out even further just as 'Didn't I Warn You' starts with its multiple instruments playing in unison, inspired percussion, and absolutely huge swells of strings. Aside from easily being the nicest sounding intro on the album, this particular moment suggests that every song on Golden Suits is purposefully orchestrated, whether there is one instrument playing or many.

If there is anything to complain about on the album, it's that songs like 'Wash It Away' kind of get lost in the mix. As a song, it doesn't really seem to fall short, but it just doesn't grab one's attention the way the previous tracks do. One doesn't mind this though by the time 'Dearly Beloved', the album's very memorable closer, starts with precise electric guitar picking.

Nicolaus is no stranger to making records - he's been at it for a while now - but Golden Suits is a strong first solo release.