How to Dress Well


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On Care, How to Dress Well's Tom Krell continues to bring his songs out of the mist, a process he began on Total Loss. With each album, his music has more closely resembled the pop and R&B of the late '80s and early '90s that initially inspired him, and now it feels like the mirror twin of 2010s pop. Krell doubles down on a radio-friendly sound on Care, and his collaborations with producers such as Jack Antonoff, Dre Skull, CFCF, and Kara-Lis Coverdale underscore just how porous the boundaries between the mainstream and the underground were when he made the album. The Antonoff co-production "Lost Youth/Lost You" is a highlight, borrowing some Top 40 gloss even as it retains a bigness and strangeness that most charting artists lack. Now that the fog has lifted from his music, Krell sounds more earnest than ever. The tropical pop of "What's Up" feels like the highbrow yet heartfelt flipside of Justin Bieber's "Sorry," while Krell's own apology song, "I Was Terrible," is head over heels, ready for a slow-motion reunion between lovers in a movie (or perhaps just the movie in Krell's head). As the title Care suggests, the album's perspective on love falls somewhere between feeling and healing. While Krell is just as philosophical as he was on What Is This Heart?, he's ready to act on his emotions -- or not act on them, if the situation calls for it: Described by Krell as "consent pop," "Can't You Tell" is an endearingly awkward reminder to respect one's lover as a person, not an object of lust. Care returns to more experimental territory as it unfolds, balancing moments of freeform beauty with more structured songwriting. The string-driven coda and virtuosic guitar solos on "Salt Song" hark back to What Is This Heart?'s ambitions; "The Ruins" dives into abstract R&B, and the sprawling 11-minute "They'll Take Everything You Have" tempers distorted electronics with a majestic piano that would make Bruce Hornsby proud. Impressively, Krell continues to find new approaches within his style; even though Care's clarity is the polar opposite of Love Remains, it feels equally true.

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