Released: June Genre: R&B Metacritic Rating: 69
You can probably gather from my list that I’m not a particularly big R&B fan, it’s no secret. I didn’t even listen to How To Dress Well (project of Tom Krell)’s What Is This Heart? until three months after its release date, despite knowing full well that it was a pretty good record. When I did eventually listen to it I did so climbing a mountain with my family while on holiday, and as we ventured higher I felt myself warming immensely to a genre I often selfishly ignore. That being said, What Is This Heart? isn’t strictly R&B, but it is unlike anything else I’ve listened to in 2014, and I enjoyed it a great deal. Gloriously produced there’s a profound sadness and beauty to Krell’s croons and confessions, which often sit well atop delicate, rumbling bass and shimmering electronics. Sure, it’s occasionally clichéd and sometimes runs the risk of being overbearingly emotional, but there’s a striking intimacy here which doesn’t lose any of its spark with repeat listens, or so I’ve found. Precious Love is particularly good, whilst Repeat Pleasure is a track which consistently makes me happy and optimistic whilst delivering one of my favourite choruses of the year, a sparkling gem of a song.
What Is This Heart? is a record with its flaws, but it’s also a record showcasing its fair share of brilliance, and for me it seems like proof that broadening your horizons musically is very rarely a bad idea. Soak it in, feel your heart break in time, and then come out of it refreshed and emotionally bruised.