How to Dress Well is the name associated with the music of Tom Krell, who produces some of the best “bedroom r&b” this side of Tyrese and Ginuwine (and to a lesser extent, Mack Morrison).
On Love Remains, Krell’s ethereal, almost haunting vocals backed by experimental beats make for a ghastly combination. However, the follow-up to this record, Total Loss, is by far the stronger album.
The problem that plagues Love Remains is one of sounding unfinished. Songs like “You Don’t Need Me Where I’m Going” carry out like partial thoughts – though, I will say, an excellent step in the right direction.
And it does have some goodies: “Lover’s Start” rings like a version of an old Washed Out song. “Ready for the World” might be the highlight of the album. The characteristic these two songs share in common? A certain… shall you say, completeness to them. I don’t want to speculate as to Krell’s recording process, but some of the tunes here could have been really great with a little more developing. But who am I anyway to say one way or another. I’m just a dude borrowing a computer to keep this project going.
Now that I’ve heard the far superior Total Loss, I’m thankful I stuck around for the HTDW ride. My initial impression of this record wasn’t especially good. It was almost as though I was missing out on a key reference – like I genuinely wondered what was appealing about the work. After hearing “Suicide Dream 2” (which for whatever reason, sounded to me like Childish Gambino’s “Heartbeat” – an observation I’ve since rescinded), I had a better idea, but it took a whole other album to convince me fully.
Lesson to be learned here: even if a band’s debut release sounds promising but lackluster, stick with ‘em. Their next might be a gem.
From Love Remains, here’s How to Dress Well’s “Divisions” –
Standout tracks: “Suicide Dream 2” and “Lover’s Start” and “Ready for the World”
Weakest track: “You Don’t Need Me Where I’m Going”
RIYL: Active Child, Toro y Moi, Holy Other. Experimental ambient, “white r&b,” lo-fi psychdelia.