After dropping a couple of tracks over the past couple of months — not to mention one of the most moving videos I’ve seen in a long time — Tom Krell, aka How To Dress Well, finally released his third studio album, What Is This Heart?, Tuesday (June 24).
The LP’s 12 tracks run the full spectrum of human emotion, from wistful and morose to straight-up melancholy — even hitting that feeling where you’re sad but still genuinely OK with it. You know? Anyway, there are a few standouts whose waters you’ll want to dip your toes into immediately in case this is your first time listening to the R&B singer.
1.) “Repeat Pleasure”
Many of the tracks in Krell’s catalog hinge on the interplay between the stillness of his minimal instrumentation and the singer’s lilting and fragile, yet confident, falsetto. This track picks up the tempo, relatively speaking, with a sense of percussive momentum and a ripping guitar riff — or at least what passes for it in this world of romantic quietude.
And then there’s that video I mentioned before. Bring a box of tissues.
2.) “Words I Don’t Remember”
A more characteristic delivery here finds H2DW pining away over some barely-there synths and hand-clap percussion, harmonizing with looped and cut-up vocal tracks.
“This song for me is about love, trust, commitment… and what happens to these things and, like, what happens to really real love when sentimentality is so co-opted and ruined,” Krell has said of the song.
3.) “Face Again”
A foreboding atmosphere wraps itself around this track, another lovelorn paean that finds low, pitch-shifted vocals and ghostly textural winds blowing through its sonic landscape like shivers running up your spine. Krell builds to a series of almost climaxes, before pulling back just so.
“No we weren’t made to hunger in the night,” he sings opposite a monstrous vocal line. This song might actually be about vampires now that I think of it. Although, depending on your outlook on romance, that might actually be less scary than falling in love.