Tom Krell’s m.o. is to disarm. Performing as How to Dress Well, he sings in an emotionally tremulous falsetto that makes him sound reluctant to vocalize openly for fear that his private thoughts are too delicate to endure public exposure. As a result, “‘What Is This Heart?” often feels uncomfortably intimate, which cuts both ways. “See You Fall,” with piano that suggests a rudimentary “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” is clear-eyed and gorgeous, “Precious Love” is a Timberlake-lite smooth-R&B jam with an indelible vocal hook. Yet despite occasionally giving off the light-in-the-eyes joyousness of a more grounded Jónsi, Krell doesn’t have the balance to walk the edge of falling apart without doing so. He’s alternately overwhelmed by layers of rhythm and electronics and left alone to twist in the dark. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “See You Fall”
How To Dress Well plays Brighton Music Hall Sept. 16.Marc Hirsh can be reached at email@example.com.