AOTY 2019

What Is This Heart?

How to Dress Well - What Is This Heart?
Critic Score
Based on 29 reviews
2014 Ratings: #325 / 845
User Score
Based on 208 ratings
2014 Ratings: #107
June 24, 2014 / Release Date
LP / Format
Weird World / Label
Alternative R&B / Genres
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CRITIC REVIEWS

91
Pretty Much Amazing

Compared to the tedious Total Loss, done in by consistently plodding tempos and an icily ascetic atmosphere, the new material (produced by Rodaidh McDonald) is much more dynamic and is in audible conversation with Krell’s peers all around the pop landscape.

90
Exclaim!

It moves Krell closer to the mainstream without sacrificing the emotional complexity of his music, proving that Krell is a musical force not to be underestimated.

88
Pitchfork

Krell is informed by genre but driven by expression; in his mind, pop music is anything that aspires for the most immediate and impactful connection, even if it risks embarrassment in the process. As a result, his transcendent third LP "What Is This Heart?" is a pop album of the highest caliber.

85
Paste

With “What Is This Heart?” Tom Krell has managed to indulge his experimental tendencies while at the same time achieve his most accessible sound to date. 

80
Under The Radar

Krell's tactile electronic textures remain, of course—as beguiling and poignant as ever—but a wider instrumental palette has been brought into the fold, resulting in his most ambitious and addictive album to date.

80
DIY

The music itself is bolder, yes, but still operating on the same cloudy register, stamping above experimentation into the domain of an artist who is more determined than ever.

80
Time Out London

On an impressive and engaging third album, Krell has taken his childhood influences (Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston) down darker yet extremely accessible avenues. It’s a musical mutation, not an appropriation, and a bellwether for where music is in 2014.

80
AllMusic

An immersive album that feels designed to be taken as a whole, What Is This Heart? reveals How to Dress Well coming into its own.

80
FACT Magazine

These songs are familiar, but couldn’t be further from simple: you can climb inside easily, but what you find there is tough.

80
Resident Advisor

Krell's latest album reveals him as an accomplished songwriter willing to put his darkest emotions on display. 

80
Slant Magazine
A collision between complex, elegant songwriting and soppy bedroom angst, it's not the most coherent collection of songs, but that disorder works, ending up as a function of Krell's ultimately fascinating sense of experimentation.
75
Consequence of Sound

Krell’s lyrics reveal themselves to be surprisingly blunt now that they’re centered. From its tentative first minutes to its fireworks-display resolution, the album luges down a clear, stable emotional narrative. 

70
Drowned in Sound

This is a record on which Krell’s happy to try variations on his usual bedroom-R&B façade, and he and producer Rodaidh McDonald are stronger than ever in their convictions.

70
The Line of Best Fit

Krell’s voice could never get tiresome, but the album seems unclear as to what it wants to be - too restless for heartbreak, too downbeat for the dancefloor, like a candle that’s trying to illuminate a club.

70
Spin

As intellectual and introverted as Krell often is, he’s at his best when he and the music simply let go.

70
musicOMH

When Krell connects on What Is This Heart?, it’s like a straight-KO haymaker from someone wearing olde style Victorian clothes irons for gloves. Unfortunately, his calibre is skewed, with an occasional dud chucked into the fray, wielding all the power of a marshmallow in a firefight.

65
The 405

He has become the living embodiment of our fickle relationship with music in the age of the internet. Mostly smoke, a handful of mirrors, and when you look back at it a few years later, not much fun.

60
Rolling Stone

Krell's third LP continues to elevate his R&B-inflected music into sonic clarity, though his emotions remain muddled as ever.

58
A.V. Club

On the disjointed What Is This Heart? the disconnect between Krell’s pop leanings and his innate miserableness has never been greater.

50
NME

Since the sonic mist from his neo-soul 2010 debut ‘Love Remains’ cleared, his elastic-tonsil R&B voice has aligned him closer to Daniel Bedingfield and R Kelly than James Blake and Bon Iver, no matter how much minimalist chiming, fuzzy synths and potting-the-black beats he slavers onto ‘What You Wanted’. 

50
Tiny Mix Tapes
On the one hand, we seem to be getting a clearer glimpse of the poet who was once submerged and refracted by his own process; on the other, the solid footing saps some of the drama that made that poetry compelling in the first place.
40
PopMatters

It’s nice to have a relaxing album to fall asleep to, but “What Is This Heart?” is an album that will straight up put you to sleep.

AZIZ
53
This dude is the most boring and dry R&B singer I've ever had the displeasure of hearing. Is he trying to put people to sleep with his lullaby music? The only credit I can give this man is that he has a great ear for production otherwise thanks for the sonic Ambien my dude.
86
Full of catchy hooks, powerful vocals, and emotionally charged lyrics, What Is This Heart is an album that perfectly captures the aesthetic of How To Dress Well's music. Everything about this LP is smooth, from the beautiful production to Tom Krell's silky passionate voice. Qualities like this and brilliantly catchy hooks like those on tracks such as 'repeat pleasure' and 'House Inside' this record one of the pop albums of the year
SeenYourVideo
86
What Is This Heart? begins on a somber note, and as it closes, remains so. Tragic, sparse and by no means loathing, Tom Krell's tasty signature seems it should both damage and enlighten the heart. It screams the word 'love' at the heavyhearted, and cries happily on the shoulder with a precious hug. What is this incredible comfort?
Z.Younk
80
Krell presents himself up close and peronal on the cover in plain fashion looking troubled and passionate, which is what the album goes for as well. He ranges genres, styles, and complexities risking showing his full vulnerable completeness artistically.
snarekickblues
80
Best Track: 2 Years On (Shame Dream), Face Again, Repeat Pleasure, Words I Don't Remember
Worst Track: Very Best Friend
Most Overrated Track: What You Wanted
Most Underrated Track: Pour Cyril
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Track List

  1. 2 Years On (Shame Dream)
  2. What You Wanted
  3. Face Again
  4. See You Fall
  5. Repeat Pleasure
  6. Words I Don't Remember
  7. Pour Cyril 
  8. Precious Love 
  9. Childhood Faith in Love (Everything Must Change, Everything Must Stay the Same)
  10. A Power
  11. Very Best Friend
  12. House Inside (Future Is Older)
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Added on: April 3, 2014