Total Loss is the second album from Tom Krell’s solo-electronic project How To Dress Well. Krell’s sound is an amalgamation of genres that blend into something that fell out of his dreams.
Total Loss is a highly emotional album that without a doubt comes straight from Krell’s heart.
The album resembles a letter, or a statement from Krell to those close to him. The song “Set it Right” starts off with a crushing wall of sound a la Washed Out that dissolves into that quiet letter where Krell goes through a list of friends and says “I miss ya” to each one of them. It’s at this point that the listener that the letter fully manifests as a thank you to all the people that helped him get to where he is now, a testament to all the long nights Krell spent honing his craft and unique sound while wearing headphones and noodling around on his laptop.
Musically, the album takes influence from all over the place. There are songs that sound like a sunny version of Black Moth Super Rainbow (“Ocean Floor for Everything”), there are moments that sound like an interlude on a Sigur Ros album, (“World I Need You, Won’t Be Without You (Proem)”). The echoed-underwater-sounding-piano sample on “Say My Name Or Say Whatever” could pass as a riff from legendary electronic producer Bibio and the deep bass drops in the quiet parts of the track give off an eerie goosebumps feeling similar to James Blake.
The musical influence and scope of this album is the sort that shares something new with each listen, growing with them through each go around. The use of multiple layers and reverb on the almost whispered vocals (“It Was You”) sounds like what Bon Iver’s side project Volcano Choir could have been with a taste of Michael Jackson and grooving R’n’B.
“Talking to You” features some plucked violins and enough jaw-dropping attention to detail that it could without a doubt be part of a film score.
This doesn’t mean that the album is perfect. The first half of the album moves quickly and sucks the listener straight into Krell’s world. However, the second half is hit or miss with songs like “How Many?” and “Struggle” that sound too much like other tracks on the album.
Total Loss at times is like Monet’s series of paintings that show the same landscape in different seasons for young twenty-somethings listening to their headphones alone in their bed at night.
How to Dress Well – Total Loss tracklisting:
- “When I Was In Trouble”
- “Cold Nites”
- “Say My Name Or Say Whatever”
- “Running Back”
- “& It Was U”
- “World I Need You, Won’t Be Without You (Proem)”
- “How Many”
- “Talking To You”
- “Set It Right”
- “Ocean Floor For Everything”