R&B used to be made for the bedroom, but now it's often made in a bedroom, which has changed the landscape of what the genre sounds and looks like. As How to Dress Well, Brooklyn-based philosopher Krell feeds '90s R&B sounds through a digital meat grinder, creating a gravelly and reverb-drenched parking lot over which his pensive falsetto paces. On Total Loss, the follow-up to 2010's critically-acclaimed Love Remains, Krell sings of disappointment and death while a backdrop of snaps, claps and pulsing synths keeps the truly somber at bay. "Cold Nites" and "How Many?" are dramatic numbers that channel R. Kelly—if he was trapped in an ice cave rather than a closet. "Say My Name or Say Whatever" and "When I Was in Trouble" hint at Krell's ambient drone past, while the purple head-nod of "Struggle" reminds of fellow R&B futurist The Weeknd. It may not be all sex and swing, but there are lighter moments here: "Running Back" is a hazy head-nodder that interpolates elements of Ashanti's "Foolish," and "& It Was You" triumphs over obfuscation completely, choosing a minimal backdrop to snaps, shakers and house kicks that lets Krell's high-pitched vocals shine through. – Vivian Host, Google Play
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