How to Dress Well
Oct 26, 2010 Web Exclusive
Tom Krell, the man behind How to Dress Well, has been strategically releasing snippets from his ethereal debut, Love Remains, for over a year and given the overwhelmingly positive response to those previews it comes as no surprise that the album has become one of 2010's most hyped. Krell has been likened to Antony Hegarty, Maxwell on drugs, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Justin Timberlake. These analyses aren't totally off the mark but despite being placed among some of the best vocalists of the last 15 years, one would be well served in exercising caution and skepticism when approaching Krell's debut.
Let it be known: Love Remains is indeed ambitious. But the songs, arrangements, and production are so incredibly loose in form and structure that they nearly defy criticism. Krell succeeds at creating a sonic universe he can call totally his own, but the lo-fi approach, his sharp falsetto, the in-the-red mix, and the foundationless compositions are both exhausting and alienating. If the lyrical content was audible then perhaps we could turn toward that for some meaning, but the words too are lost in the mix on all 14 tracks and so we're forced to sit back and immerse ourselves in this world Tom Krell has built for us. But Krell's world was built uniquely for him, which makes Love Remains masturbatory. And while audio-masturbation has been successful in the past, it's most effective when gear-nerds start with a keen understanding of songwriting before sitting down to play with all their vintage music toys.
Krell's determination is apparent on Love Remains and there are the components of greatness here, but if you're going to spit in the face of 50+ years of popular music you'd better have a damn good reason, lest we have to endure art for art's sake. (www.howtodresswell.blogspot.com)
Author rating: 4/10
Average reader rating: 6/10