Tom Krell, the man behind the How to Dress Well mask, shows the world his lo-fi R&B flavor while adding other elements that make you wonder, what am I listening to?
Similar to the sounds of Grimes and James Blake, How To Dress Well is mellow with hard beats and rhythms. “What Is This Heart?” is his third studio album, which can be thrown in the “Other R&B Albums That Talk About Love But Don’t Stand Out” folder.
The album opens with “2 Years On (Shame Dream),” which was a bit rocky –– maybe he had nerves? Clearly, there are old school, ‘90s influences; however, they aren’t fully apparent until “What You Wanted,” song No. 2.
The album then turns to add an older Justin Timberlake-y feel with “Face Again,” bringing in background vocals that actually get you more into the album. There is a peek of orchestral sounds that then pervade throughout.
In “Repeat Pleasure,” one of my favorites on the album solely for the instrumental, How To Dress Well combines classic R&B rhythms with more electro-pop sounds showcasing Krell’s ability to grasp to different genres and make it work. He picks up a TLC sound with “Precious Love.”
The album progresses with more of the same and ends with “House Inside (Future is Older than the Past),” (Is that acoustic? ... It works.) It’s one of the stronger songs on this album.
Overall, this album lacks consistency and a “WOW” factor. The production was great but forgettable. Although Krell is not the strongest singer, he has some fairly decent songs. “Total Loss,” his previous album, was a step in the right direction and this is a step back.
MOVE gives “What Is This Heart?” 3 out of 5 stars.