What was once bedroom indie pop could now be playing on the most popular radio stations.Weird World / Domino, 2016
8.0 / 10
Butters from South Park. Flanders from The Simpsons. Jared from Silicon Valley. All incredibly empathetic characters, who could be generalized as too nice for the worlds in which they exist. On his latest album, Care, Tom Krell, aka How To Dress Well, comes off as a real world version of those television characters. Calling Care a sensitive album would be an understatement; selling it short of being the nicest, most caring pop album you’ll hear this year. I bet if you complained about the sudden jolt of the drum making its appearance in the 5:22 mark of “Salt Song”, he’d be kind enough to remove it for you. But it’s already there, and it’s much too late to change things now. But not too late for that bold percussive element to turn “Salt Song” from a soft pop jam to an absolute rocker.
Most striking about Care, aside from Krell’s overly sensitive but attempting seductive persona, is the album’s crisp production. For Care Krell brought in Jack Antonoff, Dre Skull, CFCF, and Kara-Lis as co-producers, and it sounds like the songs should be sung by artists like Rihanna, Sam Smith, and Lukas Graham rather than Krell. What was once bedroom indie pop could now be playing on the most popular radio stations. In the past Krell’s lyrics have reflected his battles with anxiety and loneliness, and there are moments of that on Care. Rather than treated with a somber background, the music maintains its vibrant buoyancy. Krell even tackles his anxiety in a positive fashion, looking to inspire listeners to take the time to listen to children dealing with such issues in the bonus track hidden behind “They’ll Take Everything You Have”.
Krell and his collaborating producers have taken great care in making this album stand out from Krell’s previous work. While it lands as another solid release from Krell, Care is also very soft and almost asserts a theme of testosterone and masculinity being a negative. Look, I enjoy “What’s Up” because it’s insanely catchy, but my initial listens recalled nightmares of ’90s wuss rock like Savage Garden, a band that was less savage than a Care Bear. There’s nothing wrong with embracing some of your caveman instincts and keeping memories of Savage Garden in the past.