How To Dress Well - Total Loss

Another gorgeous record that is incredibly open about love and loss.

Label: Weird World

Rating: 7

Last year How To Dress Well’s Tom Krell enjoyed the same success that similar, introverted bedroom producers received thanks to his debut ‘Love Remains’. Originally available in separate EPs, its appeal lay in its over reverberant and fragmented take on Eighties era R&B, and similar echoes run through its follow up ‘Total Loss’.

Downbeat atmospheres provide platforms for Krell’s androgynous falsetto and, like his Tri Angle label mate Holy Other, his dazed take on R&B is still lonesome and ghostly. xx-ish silences are disturbed by faint clicks and crackles on ‘How Many’ whilst Krell sounds particularly anguished on the Memory Tapes-like ‘Cold Nites’.

But ‘Total Loss’, as its title might otherwise suggest, is not a somber record. Describing his emotions during recording, Krell says: “I felt very unhappy and confused and while writing these songs. I was trying to learn to lose in a meaningful way and sustain loss as a source of creative energy.” If ‘Love Remains’ observed love’s darkest hours, ‘Total Loss’ is Krell’s attempt at finding the light and the LP’s glossiness, thanks to co-producer Rodaidh McDonald (credits includes ‘xx’) certainly adds to that. The orchestral ‘Talking To You’, for example, is Krell’s own take on the optimism of ‘Takk…’ era Sigur Ros.

‘Total Loss’ most personal moment is its closing track ‘Ocean Floor For Everything’, which was penned about a close friend’s death. Here Krell coos: “I know you were always ready for me, baby / Way before we met…”, and there’s a strong sense he’s trying to overcome such painful heartache with the strongest of spirit.

At times Krell does overindulge, the stripped back structures of ‘& It Was You’ and ‘Running Back’, for instance, getting lost in their own repetitiveness. But amongst all that haze, it’s clear that Krell has produced another gorgeous record that is incredibly open about love and loss. You’d do no worse than listen to him.