How To Dress Well – New Confusion

Hell is where no one has anything in common with anyone else

I’ve been confused and oversensitive all day. One of those days when the even the smallest slight feels like a personal injury. I’m never sure how best to handle those moments except to try to bridge the gap dividing me from the others in my life, whether my wife or my mechanic or the guy at the bodega. I’m happiest when I feel connected to other people, even those I only encounter once. My wife teases me for making friends with every cab driver, but what kind of life would it be to not find out what you have in common with the people with whom you cross paths? Sometimes it doesn’t work—people don’t always want to be found—but usually it does, and I walk away from the interaction feeling like my shoes fit better than they did beforehand.

When I was making music full-time in the 2010s, I crossed paths with Tom Krell a few times. I was briefly signed to the label on which he released one of his first records, and If I remember correctly, he liked some of the music I had been making at the time with Kalifa (fka Le1f); we found ourselves in the same room a handful of times. His music has always had an earnestness, even in spite of some of its more academic qualities. I appreciate both sides, and I’ve always gotten the sense that Krell was actually the person he put into his music, for better or worse. My sense now is that’s what he’s looking to [re]capture on his upcoming album I Am Toward You. After releasing a string of relatively high profile records on Domino, he’s been quiet for the past six years (save for a couple of remix albums). Following 2018’s The Anteroom, he apparently burned out in the wake of a debilitating tour schedule and disillusionment with the cynicism of the business of music. Fair.

The first two songs from this new record have a clear-eyed immediacy to them. I haven’t heard the rest of the album, but both sides of the lead single seem distinctly less cool than the songs on The Anteroom or the preceding releases on Domino—both in substance and in style—and I truly say that as a good thing. Neither seem contrived, nor do they feel overly stylized. Krell’s production is always pretty immaculate, and that’s still true here, but the songs have a bit more room to float to the surface, and they’re better for it. As an artist with such natural vocal and songwriting talent, sometimes his fondness for intricate flavor-of-the-day production has worked against his favor in the past. That no longer seems to be the case, despite working with folks like CFCF and Joel Ford on the new album. Sometimes when we’re trying to connect with other people, we just need to get out there without trying to gussy ourselves up. Saying what we have to say is usually more important than making sure we look cool saying it.

How To Dress Well‘s I Am Toward You is out May 10th on Sargent House. You can get access to two songs when you preorder the record on bandcamp. You can also stream it.

How To Dress Well – “New Confusion” (bc)


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