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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Get lost in How To Dress Well’s ‘Total Loss’

    Get lost in How To Dress Wells Total Loss

    Sometimes it’s all in the album title. Total Loss opens with the sweet lull of a keyboard, which over the course of the song’s lilting, mournful melodies morphs steadily into the sounds of the ocean until the song becomes nothing but waves crashing on a beach. The trajectory of this track, “When I Was In Trouble,” is a good indication of the kind of soundscape with which bandleader Tom Krell is working. There is an expansiveness present throughout this set of songs, a totality that is expressed as simply as the hum of a synth falling into the sounds of the sea.

    Krell proves himself a master of communicating such totality, finding just as much weight in the striking of a piano chord as he does in the ocean. “Cold Nites”, a highlight on the record, rolls along on a series of crushing piano chords, with the music fading out only to have the drums crash in seconds later.

    The drop-out and crash-back-in trick is employed by many artists, but very few can do it in a way that is both different and universal. If there’s one thing to take away from listening to Total Loss, it’s that Krell is a master of this technique.

    Yet we can’t forget about the concept of totality that Krell is so fond of: loss. In the album’s most affecting stretch, Krell waxes nostalgic in “& It Was U,” channeling New Edition-era Bobby Brown. Using only vocals and percussion, Krell harmonizes with himself as he snaps in the background. The words seem lonely, as if struggling to find some kind of grounding or truth as they drift endlessly over churning drums. This juxtaposition between the sorrow in his voice and the hopefulness of the music permeates the record, be it the orchestral beauty of the haunting “Talk To You” or the odd shoegaze of “Set It Right” that tackles the subject of loss head-on.

    With a title like Total Loss, it’s only natural that this would be a record with enough substance to occupy the mind a while, yet it never feels like too much or too little.

    4.5/5

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