How To Dress Well

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How To Dress Well is the stage name of songwriter and producer Tom Krell. Krellʼs burgeoning career began in 2009 when, having just moved from Brooklyn to Berlin, his songs began to emerge online via a hugely prolific string of free, digital EPs posted in anonymity on his blog. Combining a gorgeous falsetto with fractured R&B-influenced beats, an instinctive ear for subtly devastating melody and elements of noise, sound collage and avant-garde composition, Krellʼs debut album Love Remains offered a beautiful window into a startlingly realised artistic imagination. Praised for both its conceptual strength and immediate emotional resonance, Love Remains duly garnered vast critical acclaim and highlights such as “Ready For The World” saw Krell accredited with having given birth to a new, narcotized strain of R&B that has since spawned a host of imitators.

All the elements of Love Remains that enraptured are still present on Total Loss – the noisiness, the moodiness, the layers of swarming voices – but stand alongside other complex elements: the elegant weeping arcos and pizzicatos of neo-classical music, the rude drums of trap-rap, and the sweet, special and sentimental moments of Janet Jacksonʼs Velvet Rope are all swept up and embraced in the deep beauty of Total Loss. So the fractured hip-hop beats of “How Many?” sit alongside the cinematic strings of “World I Need You, Wonʼt Be Without You (Proem)”, and the deeply affecting “Talking To You” (in which Krell executes a duet, of sorts, with himself) precedes the transcendent sweep of “Set it Right”, before the glacial beauty of “Ocean Floor For Everything” brings everything to a quietly devastating close.

Krell states that Total Loss is “an opening-up”, describing it as an “album about sharing.” So, where Love Remains was an expression of intense and maybe isolating intimacy with pain, Total Loss is about the rare sharing that can go on between people that pierces through the undeniable, sometimes unshakable struggle and pain of life. As Krell himself says, “Iʼm trying to use this sharing to orient my life— call it true hope, or love.”

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