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Love Remains

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Album Review

Despite the abundance of lo-fi acts and artists revisiting the sounds of their childhood in 2010, How to Dress Well remained unique. Tom Krell’s fractured background, which included loving late-‘80s R&B as a little boy, playing in bands throughout high school, and recording drone music in college and beyond, came together as something organic in Love Remains. Krell released many of these songs in a prolific burst of free EPs in late 2009 and early 2010, garnering buzz from critics who treated them like aural Rorschach blots, hearing Panda Bear, Michael Jackson, dubstep, Shai, and Bon Iver in Krell’s dense, soulful songs. Though it’s perfect fodder for analyzing, Love Remains doesn’t sound calculated — often, it sounds like it was recorded by accident. The album is so lo-fi that it hisses, clips, and goes into the red regularly, but Krell makes the most of this, evoking the power of memories, dreams, and impressions. These songs weren’t meant to be heard clearly — tracks such as “You Hold the Water” sound like they’re seeping through walls, or like they’re half-remembered, with memories and emotions circling in a feedback loop that would overload any recording equipment. Krell reworks the R&B of his childhood just as deftly as he repurposes Love Remains’ conventionally bad recording techniques. The fluidity of the melodies and the spare beats are rooted in late-‘80s/early-‘90s R&B — it’s no coincidence that one of How to Dress Well’s definitive songs, “Ready for the World,” shares its name with the ‘80s R&B group. However, Krell isn’t aping this style so much as transforming it into an expression of what it means to him; on “My Body,” he croons, “I was hopin’ for the rain, I was hopin’ for you,” surrounded by blissful and desolate electronics before the track cuts off abruptly, like someone turned off the radio. Krell’s vocals, which range from angelic sighs to piercing falsettos, are the conduit for Love Remains’ emotions, channeling regret on “Suicide Dream 2” and getting lost in the moment on “Can’t See My Own Face.” At times things approach soundtrack-like abstraction, particularly on “Walking This Dumb,” a live recording that sounds like it was captured about 500 yards away from the club. However, as Love Remains progresses, the songs get closer to Krell's influences, and while “Lover’s Start” and “Decisions” might be a hair less intriguing than the album’s more damaged cuts, they show that How to Dress Well doesn’t need to be tampered with to have impact. Were they recorded and produced more cleanly, they could be hits, but that’s not the point of Krell’s music: its unfinished, imperfect quality makes it an intimate experience for listeners, letting them connect the dots in their own ways. Love Remains is a striking debut, one that speaks to how we listen to and remember music we love, and the impact it makes on everything else we hear.

Customer Reviews

Lo-Fi, but wonderful

I agree with the previous comments who said the quality of the recordings is lacking...but I very much enjoy that. Most times this would bother me...very much, but this album just skates into a gray area where the lack in quality of recording fits the feel of the album and, in my opinion, adds to the vision of the record. Its one of my favorite releases this year...while lower on the list it is still a must have record for 2010.

Not worth the price...

Although there are a few really standout tracks here, and you can tell Tom Kruell has his heart in the right place, the recording quality really hinders any real enjoyment for me. Even with a nice set of headphones, the recording is crackling and broken. I agree with the first reviewer, be aware before buying.

Interesting

Stretching songs to their limits without losing them. A wonderful haunting experience.

Biography

Born: Germany

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Research fellow Tom Krell makes ghostly, lo-fi R&B under the moniker How to Dress Well, a name he stumbled upon and adopted as his own in a Minneapolis bookstore in 2004. As a little boy, Krell loved late-'80s and early-'90s R&B artists including Keith Sweat and Ready for the World, and since he was a late bloomer, he could sing along to songs by female vocalists well into his teens. However, in high school he played in various metal and hardcore bands, then switched to making drone-based...
Full Bio
Love Remains, How to Dress Well
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Customer Ratings

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