Total Loss by How to Dress Well

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Tom Krell a.k.a, How to Dress Well a Brooklyn-based musician released his sophomore album Total Loss in September 2012 following his 2010 debut, Love Remains. The album is full of thoughtful lyrics amidst multiple soundscapes and chords, always leaving a subtle emotional undertone of sorts. He fits into somewhat into the indie/ethereal R&B genre with lo-fi reminiscence, like parts of the track were recorded in his bedroom. But this album is anything but some old bedroom-recording project and really redefines the generic limits of the contemporary music industry. In other words, he’s pretty much a hipster when it comes to this kind of stuff. This album was constructed after a solo tour of Love Remains and Krell had feelings of being very alone because of the personal tragedies he had endured just before the release of that album. Nearing the completion of a new album, he scrapped all but one song, the one song that was different from “ ‘drilling down into melancholy… a propensity towards sadness that is quite intense’”, as Krell said in an interview with the UK online news site, The Guardian. From this source, he developed an entirely new album, which became a successful sophomore release.

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Topping the album is “When I Was in Trouble”; trains are passing by, soon accompanied by some somber chords. “You were there for me when I was trouble”. These are the first desperate words you hear from Krell’s soft voice and immediately you’re hooked. The sounds of music and trains intertwine as a low drone and bad radio signals chime into the emotional turmoil.

The song to follow “Cold Nites” has a haunting feeling of losing your other and it really takes you that dark place with an authentic chilling drive of Krell’s crooning voice, electronics, and simple percussion.

To set himself apart from the rest of the world even more, on the third track “Say My Name or Say Whatever”, starts with what sounds like an old recording a kid talking about the downer that reality can really be. Rather depressing stuff even with what seems to be happiness and hope in the background, but it seems to be hollow and empty creating quite the complex for the listener. He also showcases his piercing falsetto in this track as well, which may not be the prettiest sound ever, but it adds to the organic sense of emotion he wants to capture.

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Ending the first half of the album is “& It Was U” which along with “Running Back” give a real R&B feel with solid drum patterns and sweet sky-high vocals. There’s something to really groove to if you want and is a nice change from the other slower, more taxing songs.

The next track “World I Need You, Won’t Be Without You (Proem)” is an instrumental that again makes for a really hopeful foil to the first half.

Wrapping up the album is “Ocean Floor for Everything” which is the track that held this album together that I mentioned before. It contains a sort of sadness that blossoms into something irreplaceably hopeful, closing the album on an unexpectedly lighter note, closure to the emotional roller coaster of always having to know How to Dress Well.

The album is really something that requires a good amount of time to experience. Just sit down and listen. Take it all in and then form your own opinion. I think that this is something that can just be appreciated for the work and thought that went into it and it just happens to one of the best musical and emotional rides out there right now. And maybe you all can catch on before it ‘s not that hipster anymore. Figure out How to Dress Well and enjoy.