Aural Pleasure Review: How to Dress Well's 'What Is This Heart?'

by

comment
how-to-dress-well-_-courtesyjpg
How to Dress Well | “What Is This Heart?”  | Domino  | ****

Tom Krell cut his first record as How to Dress Well in 2010, back when he seemed to typify the burgeoning movement of indie R&B (read: white guys singing falsetto). At the time Krell and his counterparts James Blake and Justin Vernon didn’t seem to have much pull outside of Pitchfork-concerned circles, but it turned out that their weird, deconstructionist take on R&B proved exactly what the stagnant genre needed. It wasn’t long before the mainstream followed suit: Kanye West collaborated with Vernon, Frank Ocean won a Grammy, Beyoncé made Beyoncé.

Four years on, Krell is back with his third record “What Is This Heart?,” an appropriately heart-on-the-sleeve declaration proving that, whatever the hell indie R&B is at this point, he’s clearly better at it than anyone. That’s not to say “What Is This Heart?” is at Channel Orange level. But it’s damn good, and by no small stretch the best How to Dress Well record yet.

Start with the cover: a bracing close-up of Krell’s face that, in addition to proving his uncanny resemblance to Manu Ginobili, sets us up for just how close he plans on getting over the following 12 tracks. That emotional candor and desire to stretch his voice to R. Kelly-level vocal acrobatics results in some alternately moving and embarrassing moments. But it’s hard to stay cynical in the face of something as sweeping as “Pour Cyril,” as crippling as “See You Fall” or as captivatingly epic as closer “House Inside.”

 

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.