Review Summary: Each thing, only once...
How To Dress Well - Just Once
Tom Krell is one vulnerable man. Love Remains
put his fragility out for the world to witness and captured our hearts in the process. Achingly full of sorrow and narcotic in its addiction, it showcased the depth of emotion that can be put into music; not so much inviting us into Krell’s mind as it simply put us there in all its glory. However, the biggest concern from Love Remains
wasn’t necessarily an overabundance of emotion, drowned out by catharsis, but in the fact that it was almost a too sedated affair to fully appreciate. Recorded in the early hours of the morning in a small space with sleeping roommates just a door away, Love Remains had impeccable atmosphere at the expense of any sort of release for Krell as a vocalist. Enter How To Dress Well’s latest EP, Just Once
. Essentially a reworking of select songs from Love Remains
, the extended play doesn’t so much start where the LP left off as it basically retunes the pieces.
With a full orchestra backing up Krell, How To Dress Well provides three redone songs with an original piece thrown in so as not to make it entirely a rehashed affair. This time around, Krell seems to have put a bit of studio work into the EP; the songs themselves are much more cleanly produced and Krell’s voice is much more strongly felt, leading every single piece in a more dominant way than in Love Remains
. The falsetto highs and triple layered vocal melodies from the reworked “Suicide Dream 1” show just how confident and comfortable Krell is this time around; accompanied closely by a minimalistic piano and violin leads. Just Once
is a much more stripped down and bare bones than anything Tom Krell has done previously. Avoiding all the pretense of layers of studio work and complex mixing and mastering, it serves to magnify the fragility already heavily prevalent throughout the body of How To Dress Wells work.
Yet the lack of production is made up for by the orchestration that is present on Just Once
. “Suicide Dream 2” starts off fragile enough with a lone violin in stage center, but completely brought to life by a very hauntingly sounding piano and finally encapsulated by the smooth pitch of Krell’s voice. So while Just Once
is a more natural sounding record, don’t assume that it is not a fully fleshed out EP… it is. So much so that it’s almost overwhelming at times; “Suicide Dream 3” threatens to loose cohesion all throughout the listen, and is only marginally brought together by the clean string sections.
While Krell’s voice is nearly indecipherable at times, his portrayal of life and death, accompanied by the orchestra is yet another look into his soul. While providing little ideas as to what direction How To Dress Well is going in the future (after all, there really is only one new song on this EP that’s basically a continuation to Love Remains
), Krell takes yet another step towards just what exactly he is aiming for in his music. And while we patiently await just what that goal is, we get Just Once
: a beautifully composed, aesthetically spartan, four-shot of pure, drug inducing, pieces that will keep us interested in the sanity of Krell and in the future of How To Dress Well.