Tom Krell, best known by his stage name How To Dress Well has been pleasing critics and a global fan base since the release of his debut ‘Love Remains’ back in 2010. An artist of the digital age, none of his records or singles have sold particularly well across territories, yet the demand to see this enigmatic artist is deftly evident in the capital as the band takes to the stage of a packed out Village Underground.
Appearing meekly in terms of interaction yet determined in action, the musician’s launch into a deafening rendition of ‘Time Was A Meant to Stay’, a skittering introduction toppled by the rich string and synth reverb of its chorus while Krell’s vocals move between baritone and Bieber.
It’s a set of total and complete variation reflecting the versatility of HTDW’s back catalogue, the soulful ‘Burning Up’ contrasting perfectly against the buoyant indie of ‘What’s Up’. Krell’s vocal stitches the set together as his musical companions successfully keep pace while his falsetto frolics in the intimate setting. The appeal of the artist is clear, and as the first time attending a show, we felt ill-prepared compared to the dedicated following who cheer in exuberance as older tracks are plucked from the discography and reworked in intelligent ways.
There is likeness to contemporaries, such as James Blake and Active Child when Tom takes to change with the deconstructed electronics of ‘The Ruins’ before we arrive at a Weeknd style vocal breakdown. In another blissful universe, this band would have a whole string of hits. ‘Lost Youth/Lost You’, the obvious highlight of latest album ‘Care’ exemplifies this as the structure is simplified, the lyrics far sweeter and melody is pure pop. A sincere rendition with rolling percussion and sweeping keys receive the largest applause of the night. A sincere, passionate performance of designed, inventive pop means How To Dress Well’s appeal and reputation is likely to rise far higher than any of his chart positions.