Tuesday, June 15, 2010
How to Dress Well's "Suicide Dream 2"
Of course I would love music made by someone called How to Dress Well. Other bands I would like: How to Cook with Various Gravies; How to Talk About Literature At Least as Often as You Talk About Television; How to Shut Up Your Child on the Metro Train and Just Please Get Off Before the Zoo So You Stop Breathing On Me With Your Mouth Just Please. These are all important things to learn to do!
How To Dress Well is actually just a dude named Tom Krell, who lives in a suburb of New Jersey called "Brooklyn". He also apparently sometimes lives in Cologne, Germany, where he translates post-Kantian philosophy (this is not an oblique joke regarding hipsters in Brooklyn; he actually sometimes lives in Cologne, Germany, where he translates post-Kantian philosophy). I assume he does not wear pleated pants.
What he does do is create the kind of bedroom-electro-R&B that tricks my brain into thinking I've just swallowed twenty ounces of codeine. The track above, "Suicide Dream 2," is from a free EP recently posted to his blog -- you can download 7 of these EPs there, in fact, though he also includes a convenient "pay" option (take that, conscience!). "Suicide Dream 2" is the kind of soulful, aching song that hooks you slowly, pulling you into its swirling folds with a force subtle enough that you almost don't notice that you're up at 2 AM, still listening to it on repeat. I'm doing that now, by the way, as I write this. How could I not?
I felt the same way when I first heard Bon Iver in 2007, and Tom Krell's music has more in common with Justin Vernon's than you might think. The former locked himself up -- infamously, now -- in a Wisconsin cabin to record For Emma, Forever Ago, and Krell's going it alone, too. The two men share a falsetto almost shameful in its decadent beauty (though both can hit those low notes when the occasion calls, as it does in the latter half of this track). Both, too, have much of the impact of their music rooted in a lo-fi appeal, the tinny chimes of Vernon's resonator guitar in "Skinny Love" and the way Krell's loops go into the red in "Suicide Dream 2," the final notes of each keyboard swell fraying and spinning away into distortion. It's music intimate and haunting, the kind of thing you feel you should listen to through a cracked door or with your ear to the wall of the next room, hoping that whoever's making these sounds will keep going, unaware.