How To Dress Well is Tom Krell's project. `Love Remains is his debut album and certainly an oddity. Tom sings in a high falsetto, sometimes layering his voice against itself to create an almost paranormal effect on the songs. The music is full of haunting synths, teetering reverb and a dubbed out sound. Imagine Prince remixed by Deathprod.
How to Dress Well follows a similar path made by some other new musicians influenced by RnB, from Forest Swords, James Blake, to oOoOO. This is not an album as such, more a re-recorded collection of previous EP releases, so to some this album is already quite familiar. I didn't think I would like this album but I've surprised myself, there are certainly more highlights than low. `Suicide Dream 2' is a perfect name for this song, Krells angelic voice swoons over a delicate synth loop full of dreamy fuzz and distortion. Its hard to know what he is singing about but the emotion just oozes throughout this song.
`You Won't Need Me Where I'm Goin' is just charmingly simple, the distortion sounds as if it will break the song into 2 but manages to somehow keep it's shape. A perfect pop song.
'Walking this dumb' is the crowd-pleasing killer track, a live number where Krell's vocals work a treat with the deep drum and bass thump to produce a truly uplifting doo-wop-style tune, perfect for getting you in the mood before you go out for a good time. To call `Love Remains' disjointed is an understatement, but it's a good quality. You never quite know if each song is going to succeed. Sometimes it doesn't work, such as on 'Mr. By & By', where Krell's high-pitched vocals just extend a bit too far into a squeal that just ends up annoying you.
The same songs suffer from too much reverb and distortion, I know it is meant to be lo-fi but sometimes more attention to detail in the re-production would have helped. Using high falsetto in virtually every song does grate after a while. But Tom Krell has somehow pulled it off better than other like-minded bands of recents times like oOoOO, Salem and Zola Jesus. The key to the album are the songs, they just have a habit of keeping your interest. Krell manages to construct a set of pop-friendly torch songs, this is lo-fi electronic RnB played dead straight from a parallel universe. Gone is the slick, sheen and sexy RnB aesthetics of your Timberlake's and in comes a ghostly version of Boyz II Men singing songs about suicide and rainy days.
in a good way that is. it's not often one gets one's head so turned by a new album, but this did it for me. Excited for the first time in ages. Lo-Fi, atmospheric, thoughtful, accomplished. follows a wonderful narrative, so needs to be listened to with attention and in its entirity. So Lo-Fi you may check your speakers a few times. Even in all that has some catchy hooks and brilliant melodies. If you like band comparisons to guide purchases, then imagine MGMT and mercury rev selling all their instruments and spending the money on a library van, listening to old hiphop and gregorian chant on the broken tape player. then making a record.
An interesting album let down big time by the poor recording quality which at times makes the album unlistenable. This needs to be rerecorded in a proper recording studio with the help of people who know how to get the best out of the studio equipment. It would then be a great album.