Total Loss, the newest release by Tom Krell's solo project, How to Dress Well, is both poignant and cathartic. The cover art suggests that the album is about coming to terms with the impermanence of life. Krell was heavily influenced by the recent deaths of some of his friends and family members, as well as his own struggle with depression. These are songs for the head and heart, not necessarily the hips.
How to Dress Well shares many qualities with other indie acts that dabble in R&B (Frank Ocean, Solange, James Blake), yet Krell differentiates himself with minimalist tendencies. Every note seems purposeful and true to his cohesive vision for the album.
"Say My Name or Say Whatever" is a thoughtful track inspired by a documentary about homeless teens, and "& It Was U" offers a brief respite from the rest of the album's emotional intensity. The latter's sound is surprisingly fun and reminiscent of Prince's "Most Beautiful Girl in the World," with shadings of Robbie Williams and Jamiroquai. But the last track, "Ocean Floor for Everything," is the album's metaphorical chrysalis. It seems more like a dedication to the continuity of life than a memorial to those who've been lost.