Review: How To Dress Well Releases Techno-Influenced, Dark New Album 'The Anteroom'

How To Dress Well takes a darker turn with his fifth album.
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How To Dress Well

How To Dress Well

How To Dress Well has released his dark, techno-influenced album The Anteroom. The fifth album for Tom Krell, better known as How To Dress Well, he has been pretty consistent putting out an album every two years since 2010.

Electronics have always played a role in How To Dress Well’s albums, dating back to his debut Love Remains, which was largely quite ambient and focused on Krell’s echoing distant vocals, but fuzzy, distorted synths were often found on the background of tracks. On The Anteroom, these come to the forefront, with even some dancefloor-ready cuts like “Nonkilling 6 | Hunger,” that could be mistaken for a techno track from a later remix album with a steady four-on-the-floor beat.

This offers a different perspective on the message and theme of the album. It was written during “two years in which my life just came crashing down,” he says in a statement. His previous record Care was written with Jack Antonoff, who is known for writing chart-topping Smashes with Taylor Swift among others, he turned to Joel Ford on this one, who has helped on records for Oneohtrix Point Never and Autre Ne Veut, which you can definitely hear. The skittering drums and soft chopped up vocal samples have his stamp on tracks like the introspective “July 13 Hope No Pain.” Krell also deviates from just singing throughout the album, narrating the effects of depression and its impact on different people.

The production is at its most complex on The Anteroom. He returns to a softer, more mellow synth-led production on “Love Means Taking Action,” or it takes another left turn with “Brutal” where his voice shines with a building instrumental that crescendos into strings. But often times it is the chugging techno that carries The Anteroom where beats start and stop, leaving the listeners wondering where the track might head next before new elements enter and sometimes abruptly exit. Even when this happens, How To Dress Well’s falsetto remains a constant on the album, sometimes echoing in the background, but a familiar and reassuring voice, even with a dark message. 

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