Metascore
69

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
Buy On
  1. 91
    Though it never quite comes through crystal-clear, the intensity and sincerity of the underlying emotion manages to bleed through a confusing swirl of altered sounds.
  2. Jun 20, 2014
    90
    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.
  3. Jun 23, 2014
    88
    The title of this album is a challenge as well, as How to Dress Well’s modern masterpiece is conducted with the most eternal transparency--Krell asks “what is this heart” and lets you look right into his own.
  4. Jun 24, 2014
    85
    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.
  5. Q Magazine
    Jul 2, 2014
    80
    It's an album constructed from the simplest of elements: muted keyboards chords, pained falsetto vocals and Krell's greatest weapon of all: near silence. [Aug 2014, p.108]
  6. Jun 26, 2014
    80
    Despite the mainstream references, the album is a much more emotionally wrenching experience than anything on the actual pop charts.
  7. Jun 25, 2014
    80
    Krell's still part of a pop vanguard, but his music is more than ever a welcoming gesture.
  8. Jun 24, 2014
    80
    Krell’s most complete album to date: not because it exactly answers the question of where his position is in relation to pop--nor the question of the title, nor any questions at all--but because it perfectly captures that oscillation that has always been at the centre of his work.
  9. Jun 19, 2014
    80
    Though his voice can sound a little insipid, songs such as A Power, Face Again and What You Wanted possess satisfying bass rumbles and earworm hooks.
  10. Jun 19, 2014
    80
    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.
  11. Jun 19, 2014
    80
    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.
  12. Jun 19, 2014
    80
    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.
  13. Aug 21, 2014
    78
    It's a smörgåsbord of carefully culled influence, one that Krell indulges in with gusto.
  14. 75
    Krell steps out of the shadows on his third album, but of course he hasn’t let go of the sadness that’s colored the project to date.
  15. 70
    The songs allow drama instead of losing themselves in repetition and reverie. The music is closer to pop, but it’s still within Mr. Krell’s interior world.
  16. Jul 7, 2014
    70
    All that said, there’s a lot to love still, and if you carefully trim around the dross, you’re left with a stunning product and some phantasmagorical slivers of sonic mastery.
  17. Jun 25, 2014
    70
    As intellectual and introverted as Krell often is, he’s at his best when he and the music simply let go. What Is This Heart? delivers in the second half when nearly every song peaks with exuberant finales.
  18. Jun 24, 2014
    70
    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.
  19. Jun 23, 2014
    70
    Krell’s fragile innocence and tenderness remains as touching as ever, though, with a string of grand, sweeping numbers occupying the album’s heart that underline his power to galvanise the deepest depths of the soul.
  20. Jun 19, 2014
    70
    There’s no staggering departure from Total Loss, but the backdrop for his soulful R&B crooning is becoming worn-out, and you can feel Krell auditioning replacements.
  21. 70
    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.
  22. Jun 30, 2014
    65
    At its heart it is an album at odds with itself as much as it is with its audience, too weird to gain mainstream popularity, but too pop to be truly revered by existing fans.
  23. Jun 24, 2014
    62
    The result is one of optimistic discontent. Krell’s heart may be perpetually drug through the dirt, but nothing is going to stop him from looking up.
  24. Mojo
    Jul 24, 2014
    60
    Krell sounds like ha has taken a step back, seemingly trading his experimentalism for a more traditional blue-eyed soul route. [Jul 2014, p.91]
  25. Jun 24, 2014
    60
    Krell's third LP continues to elevate his R&B-inflected music into sonic clarity, though his emotions remain muddled as ever.
  26. Jun 23, 2014
    60
    While there are a few great moments here (Words I Don't Remember, Pour Cyril), some judicious pruning of the 55-minute running time wouldn't have gone amiss.
  27. Jun 24, 2014
    58
    On the disjointed What Is This Heart? the disconnect between Krell’s pop leanings and his innate miserableness has never been greater.
  28. Jul 2, 2014
    50
    It feels lush, it pleases and occasionally stirs, but there’s a cold distance between voice and instrument throughout, a distinction that barely existed on previous releases.
  29. Jun 24, 2014
    50
    What Is This Heart? often feels uncomfortably intimate, which cuts both ways..
  30. 50
    His attempts to revolutionise, strip bare and stretch the borders of R&B with all manner of glitches, gollums and glaciers are admirable, but it’s only when he tranquilizes his inner Usher for the downbeat piano throb of ‘See You Fall’, the spectral orchestration of ‘Pour Cyril’ and the acoustic minimalism of ‘2 Years On (Shame Dream)’ that he achieves the subtlety and invention of, say, Sufjan Stevens.
  31. Jun 25, 2014
    40
    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.
  32. Magnet
    Jul 18, 2014
    30
    What Is This Heart? certainly isn't done any favors by Krell's stock, dejection-by-the-numbers lyricism and the baring of his overextended falsetto against the array of muted synths, strings and drum machines that crop up from song to song, as the album cycles through every tired adult-contemporary R&B trope in the book. [No. 111, p.55]
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 40 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 40
  2. Negative: 2 out of 40
  1. Jul 18, 2014
    9
    Less lo-fi and sketchy and more of the polished How To Dress Well project from Tom Krell. Either way, "What Is This Heart?" is certainly oneLess lo-fi and sketchy and more of the polished How To Dress Well project from Tom Krell. Either way, "What Is This Heart?" is certainly one of the most beautiful Pop and Alternative R&B records to come out this year and on longer run!

    As every album, every release with Tom Krell, he surrounds himself with shattered and heartfelt tunes. More than ever, dealing with heartbreak and capturing his own cloud filling atmosphere to sing around.
    "What Is This Heart?" is like one trip to LA's Magic Mountain, it is intriguing, haunting but on another note dark, most vulnerable and alone yet leaving a listener strong thus it's surface.
    Melodies brighter and heavier, less tentative and bolder and more of an accomplished piece of work for Krell's already brilliant but odd discography. The songs have taking a stretch, a new key to play as the orchestral beauty, depthful and hurt "Pour Cyril" whom easily could had it's place on a Terrence Malick picture or any optional international drama film. And the six minute long of straightforward but heart-hitting, chopped love letter of "Words I Don't Remember" that could aspire in awe an audience of young romance as depressing but joyous and living as movies like "The Fault in Our Stars".

    Songs that were hanging as ideas and fast in and outs on earlier LPs, feel more complete on this new set of tracks.
    “Pop, but not populist” - HTDW, in other words, to slight different context. Yes, it is more "Pop" than material from say the groundbreaking debut "Love Remains" that initially paved a way for new alternative/sub-genre up-comers (see; The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Miguel, etc..). The R&B and darkness still lays it's part, though lighter on executes as "Very Best Friend" it may bell in, which with title alone could be a hint to the 90s cut "Best Friend" featured the late-songstress Aaliyah and musician Missy Elliott. But on this round, poppier and bouncy electronica with "My very best friend.." through out the chorus I guess.
    With artists mentioned as such Frank Ocean, who managed to find a spot in the mainstream without sacrificing the-ir definite of art, is it a matter of time just till we see Tom Krell and his outfit as How To Dress Well to dominance a role in the new wave of R&B (or, see PBR&B) he set a scene for and up-lifted in the late 2000s. Or is the sound behind too weird and bearing with his spooky vocals and falsetto?

    None man can tell.

    Still on the third album in, "What Is This Heart?" delivers catchy and touching performances on top of striking instrumentals with many of this years best tracks (see; "Face Again" an anguish Krell over a schizo lyrically and sonically race on distorted, heart-raising industrial production [singers take on Death Grips a la] through pure pain).
    This is the underground but "big-budget" record that varies from Wes Anderson's playful and sugar-sweet dialogue sequences to an end third of Tarantino's Django.
    A must experience for 2014, an inspiring and influential experience that leave marks!
    Full Review »
  2. Jun 24, 2014
    10
    There comes a time every so often when you stumble upon something extraordinary. In this case, How To Dress Well's (aka Tom Krell's) thirdThere comes a time every so often when you stumble upon something extraordinary. In this case, How To Dress Well's (aka Tom Krell's) third studio album exceeds any and all expectations put before it. From the twinkling piano opening of "2 Years On (Shame Dream)" to the soul-wrenching outbursts on "Words I Don't Remember", Krell may have one of the most awe-inspiring albums of recent memory. It squeezes itself among other emotional releases like Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago and James Blake's Overgrown, revealing the innermost feelings of a haunted man.

    Dealing with love and the heartbreak that comes with it, How To Dress Well blows any other wannabe R&B artists out of the water. He crushes every track, offering a sharp and poignant interpretation of his emotions. Whether it be by screaming "I don't even know what's best for me" on "Face Again" or wanting more time with those he loves on "Precious Love", there is no limit to Krell's capabilities. To other artists such as Sam Smith who doesn't quite have love songs figured out, take some pointers from How To Dress Well.
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 16, 2014
    8
    This is, in my opinion, his best album yet. It has more emotion and more flair. The music is subtle, creating a beautiful contrast with theThis is, in my opinion, his best album yet. It has more emotion and more flair. The music is subtle, creating a beautiful contrast with the strong lyrics.

    There are many tracks here that I enjoyed, but I think my favorites would be “What You Wanted”, “Childhood Faith in Love”, and “Very Best Friend”.
    Full Review »