It’s chill-pop but also somehow sexy.
Not sure if it’s the magical work of How To Dress Well’s Tom Krell’s voice, but his latest album brings the shivers up and down the spine and even raises goosebumps on the arms. The 32 year-old singer and songwriter has been releasing albums at a steady pace, with recent album Care marking his fourth effort, as well as the beginning of a world tour through the US, Canada, Europe and the U.K.
It’s hard to pinpoint who his vocals and music style are similar to, but the ambient, experimental and alternative R&B genre can’t help but remind one of Sam Smith, Flume or Disclosure. As for the vocals, Tom Krell has quite the high range, placing him somewhere between Ed Sheeran and Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos.
The album kicks off with “Can’t You Tell,” featuring a coupling of nice beats with the occasional show-off of his falsetto vocals. It’s a light alternative R&B track perfect for a BGM number. Bringing in a darker mood is “Salt Song,” which begins with the vibrating sounds of the cello along with subtle whistling in the background. The middle chorus gets a tad repetitive until the music break where things finally get interesting. A sudden change brings in drum sets with ringing electronic guitars; a similar musical transition often used by Passion Pit between verses. “What’s Up” is a slow mellow piano number that really has Troye Sivan written all over it. With a tropical percussion beat, it makes it for an easy listen. Released as a single as well, “Lost Youth/Lost You” has a clever play on the title and might be one of the tracks with a catchier melody. The piano chords with underlying steady bass beats make it a predictable but ‘single’ worthy track.
“The Ruins” starts off with guitar strumming falsely leading one to anticipate a light acoustic number, however it spirals into an ambient string accompaniment with a melody style similar to that of Charles Puth. “Burning Up” definitely has some Nico and Vinz factor in it, with a cute xylophone ring in the chorus. Changing up the pace to a more upbeat tempo is “I Was Terrible,” almost making Krell sound like an indie pop-rock artist.
“Anxious” has some kicking drum beats paired to an uplifting melody, complementing Krell’s high range of vocals. Sam Smith is written all over “Time Was Meant To Say” with Krell’s smooth vocals. The contrast between the upbeat verses and staggering chorus in this number makes for a fun listen. Ambient piano chords touched with a very subtle saxophone accompaniment creates the atmosphere for “Made In A Lifetime.”
This album is so close to becoming something so much more; but there’s just something missing. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what that missing factor is but it may be in the lack of “catchiness” in the melodies of the tracks. All songs in whole are well made – properly spicing things up with the variety of instruments and style variation in the total composition. However it’s the difference of “how.” Producing these songs with a more creative and “catchier” manner would have made the ultimate difference in making this album a hit or miss. Krell has the voice – high range, soft yet sexy and easy to listen to. His voice as well as musical style has similarities to many mainstream artists, so with the right song he should easily be a radio hit. It might be a good choice to consider which way he wishes to drive his music; becoming a distinct and unique sound like Passion Pit or becoming a catchy mainstream sound like Sam Smith.