For Tom Krell, this has been a long time coming. It's best to just get it out of the way: Care is the most straightforward pop record the man known as How To Dress Well has crafted in his career yet. For longtime fans who already slightly balked at the tidy accessibility of "What is this Heart?" - but ultimately couldn't help being swayed by its meticulous beauty - that may well be news to mourn.

Should it be? Krell has been nothing if not open about his long-term desire to craft just such an album, his love for Janet Jackson a clear message. Still, if Total Loss was his Velvet Rope then this one is more his All for You: wanting to reach more by doing less. The further Krell flees from Love Remains the more one is left to wonder if the lo-fi aesthetic so many still cling to was borne more out of necessity than for the indie image it granted.

Judging from Care, the artist himself certainly has no interest in remaining in that lo-fi period, and one can't help but feel for him. His original audience is so attached to the concept that they may well not give this album a fair shake. Nonetheless, what's here is perfectly adequate pop record - but is that something we can accept from a man with such prior peaks?

Every song seems built to be serviceable. From the trotting introduction 'Can You Tell' - which finds Krell at perhaps his most lyrically confident yet ("I want to lay you down and take you right there") - to the tacked on 'edgier' outro to the following 'Salt Song', Care can't help feeling a bit over-constructed.

All this isn't to completely tear Care down. It's clean-cut to a fault, but that doesn't render it joyless. Krell is still a marvel vocally, inverting the simplest phrases into an emotional wallop. Yet, for the first time it's the voice doing all the heavy lifting, masking the lack of intent behind. A key exception is 'The Ruins', which recounts oncoming adulthood malaise ("The world's crying on the telephone," "When she was younger she would ask me, how can people be so unhappy?") and even seems to drift into a narrative on abuse. Still, this outlier aside, the album stubbornly clings to safest moves of the man's career. The one thing readily apparent throughout is Krell's desire to pull back. His songs are known for being intimate, drifting into hyper-personal, but his thoughts here have never been more broad or vague than on this album. This is never more clear than in the 10-minute outro 'They'll Take Everything You Have', which seems to aim at being an anthem of hope, but misses its mark completely in broad strokes.

The intent is clear: to craft songs immediately relatable to any listener; an admirable goal for any songwriter with pop aspirations. Yet, whether he likes it or not, the man's personal strength has always come from his willingness to sit alongside his listener. Not all is lost in his retreat, the casual listener is sure to find comfort in the background nature of the music at play here, and a voice this talented couldn't help but deliver an above average pop record even on autopilot. That being said, there is a wish that he'd understand the very best pop statements don't shy away from a clear personality. In hoping to invite more of us in, Krell can't help but lose a bit of the voice that brought as along in the first place.