Nicholas Nicholas, ” Because Of Fire At The Paper Manufacturer” b/w “Call Me Number Five”

Spencer Davis

nicholas nicholas

On Wrong, his February release on Miscreant Records, Brooklyn-based Nicholas Nicholas sounded a lot like reverb lingering in a large hall after a pop show: a sound equally indebted to genuine emotion and the void left after. “Because Of A Fire At The Paper Manufacturer” b/w “Call Me Number Five,” his latest tracks, are no different—the artist’s hesitant lyrical delivery colors his intricate compositions with devastating, wry ennui.

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Nicholas Nicholas’ conversational, verbose manner recalls Jens Lekman and John Maus; like both, on this release the artist evokes a scathing self-consciousness. The release has clear A and B sides; the catchier “Because Of A Fire At The Paper Manufacturer” moves at a quicker clip towards a more satisfying pop breakdown than the more ballad-inclined “Call Me Number Five.” Both tracks, however, see Nicholas Nicholas harmonizing with himself over a steady backbeat, meandering guitars and orchestral synths. That intricate pop craftsmanship supports lines like “Because of a fire at the paper factory/we stay inside/and I describe/the ways in which I will succumb to Western vice.” Here and elsewhere the artist seems to find himself in command of his craft without the self-assurance that a mastered skill promises.

As exemplified by the careless font atop the release’s well-lit photo, ennui everywhere strikes a discordant note. Nicholas Nicholas is Chris Masullo of Phantom Posse, the internet supergroup that counts among its ranks ILoveMakonnen and Eric Littman of Steve Sobs. The latter produced this release; the palpably silky warp and weft of his signature clean, shimmering reverbs and delays lends Masullo’s vast sonic palette a textural unity without muddying it. The impressive instrumental edifice makes lines like “I’m not trying to build the pyramids in Kansas/I’m just trying to get a sense of the grid” all the more devastating; the world is too much even for all those sweetly reassuring harmonics.

You can stream Masullo’s tracks below. On his soundcloud, they’re tagged “pop for kitchens at night;” the artist might not know how to overcome ennui, but he’s pinpointed the field of battle.

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