How to Dress Well: Our Fave Album of 2014 Gets Remixed

How to Dress Well (a.k.a. Tom Krell)’s “What Is This Heart?” is our favourite album of the year so far, by far. A remix EP—along with a deluxe edition of the LP, which includes the four remixes and two bonus songs—is out now. We chatted with the artist about his writing process and how touring affects his sound

How to Dress Well

How to Dress Well, a.k.a. Tom Krell (Credit: Zackery Michael)

We here at FLARE are crushing hard on How to Dress Well. First: killer band name, bro (obviously). “What Is This Heart?” (Weird World) is a super-sexy collection of panty-dropping makeout jams powered by Krell’s magnificent falsetto, which is somehow both ethereal and very masc at the same time. Plus he’s a total babe.

Songs like “Repeat Pleasure” recall The Purple One in their multi-layered synths and soaring vocals, while his gorgeous soundscapes incorporate samples as diverse as Beethoven (“Pour Cyril”) and the Cisco telephone hold music (“Precious Love”). “I’ve always been really interested in hold music, especially when it’s with those classic 80’s synths,” Krell told us over the phone from his home in Chicago. He also delves into the dark on more menacing tracks that veer closer to his alt-R&B brethren The Weeknd, including the intense “Face Again” and “Words I Don’t Remember.”

“The main signature to this record is that it’s got a real grounded confidence that comes from my experience touring,” he says. “It helps knowing that I had the attention of so many people all over the world [after my first two albums]. Not like the kind of attention that a shiny thing gets, but, you know, a really nice attention.”

"What Is This Heart?"

“What Is This Heart?”

His obsession with love and human relationships pulses underneath the makeout jams—this is the man, after all, whose album titles are Love Remains, Total Loss and What Is This Heart?—but despite writing about such capital-letter subjects as Love and Loss, the process is often effortless for Krell, who cites Spiritualized and Everything But the Girl as inspirations. “Writing this album was very easy. The challenge is finding the time, and then the challenge is obsessing over the detail. But generally my songwriting process is very freestyle, free associative, really easy. If it’s taking too much effort, it’s probably not going to be a very good song in the long run.”

A few of the best tracks from What Is This Heart? are getting retooled by hyped artists like Cyril Hahn and Dubbel Dutch. The remix EP is out now, and you can listen the tracks here.

Want to try the original album first? The deluxe edition of What Is This Heart? is also out now and includes both the remixes as well as two bonus songs. Take a little taste with stand-out tracks “Repeat Pleasure” and “Face Again.”