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What Is This Heart? (Weird World/Domino)
Tom Krell’s previous recordings as How To Dress Well flirted with R&B and pop conventions, but from a decidedly experimental angle. On What Is This Heart?, Krell peels back the dense cloud of reverb that used to cloak his quivering falsetto and mixes conventional instrumentation like acoustic guitars and pianos with the ambient electronic textures. He proudly embraces all the aspects of R&B that rock critics used to dismiss as cheesy.
But despite the mainstream references, the album is a much more emotionally wrenching experience than anything on the actual pop charts. By putting his voice front and centre in the mix, it’s clear that his appeal has far less to do with idiosyncratic production choices and is much more about the intensely raw feelings he conjures as a vocalist. He can sing a cheesy line with so much passion that you feel ashamed for ever looking down on simple love songs.
Top track: Childhood Faith In Love (Everything Must Change, Everything Must Stay The Same)
How To Dress Well plays the Virgin Mobile Mod Club September 12.