Label: Lefse Release date: 20/09/10 Link: Official Site Buy: Amazon/Spotify Something is genuinely, beautifully disturbing about this album. By no means should it be, since How to Dress Well makes music dubbed as lo-fi soul, but the most powerful moments carry an inimitable air of fear that just rattles the mind. Luckily Love Remains contains no fewer than one moment of intense emotion per song, a rewarding, rich, and fuzzy listen above all. It’s honest and earnest music set against deceptively simple backings for a unique and haunting (maybe haunted) ride. It’s only fitting to start at the beginning: the first sounds of the album are tape hiss, a high tone, creaking sounds, reversed vocals, and then a monologue. A modern sound collage to open a soul album, of all things, is a bold statement only because the distance created between the supposed genre and the sounds within is so great. ‘You Hold The Water’ is, in a word (or two), fucking awesome. The vocals are soaring and intimate, almost indecipherable due to the thick reverb and omnipresent overdriven sound, delivered somewhere between Jamie Lidell, Dave Longstreth, and Sam Cooke. Also worth noting throughout are the backings that have been crafted. At times similar to this weird modern witch/witch house movement (which I’ll get to with my Salem review), it’s a low-key affair that uses sparse instrumentation filled in with hiss, reverb, and the occasional sample to the maximum effect. It envelopes you, wrapping you in its sultry lich grip. ‘Ready For The World’ is achingly gorgeous, a slow burner with falsetto work on par with The Purple One. As romantic as the melisma workout around 1’24” gets (before it veers into distortion and cuts off to reveal feedback leads), it never gets cheesy or seems forced. Mainly the haunting background keeps it from ever becoming too rooted in that mode, forcing you to feel unsettled in an exhilarating way. Listening to the first half of this actually reminded me of the first time I heard Burial or Silent Shout - a state of unadulterated good anxiety, the kind of heaviness that is palpable but keeps you wanting more. ‘Walking This Dumb (Live)’ is where things begin to change here. Yes, it’s a live recording thrown in the middle of the album, but it sounds so close to the bedroom confessions of the previous six tracks that you’d think it was a fake live recording, only using the dialogue at the end to make it seem live. I don’t mean that as a criticism or bash, but just an observation, I must say. Hell, this track was and remains incredibly infectious and likeable. The other half of this album seems slightly more active than the first, a jolt of energy in the otherwise downtempo album. There are just more elements thrown into the average 70 beats per minute. The duo of ‘Escape Before The Rain’ and ‘Endless Rain’ are examples of this, the former with a synth lead and effect experimentation at the end and the latter with sampled hip-hop beats and filtered piano. Similar is ‘Lover’s Start,’ a nice slow jam with an AM radio styled beat to complement the droning backing and impeccable vocal work. ‘Mr. By & By’ sadly just sucks compared to every other song, a short song that could be an obscure 1980s cover, and a glaring inclusion next to the ambiance heavy slowcore R&B of the previous eleven songs. It’s safe to spare going over every song here that this is a very good album. My only complaints, really, are that a few songs don’t compare to the others on the album, sometimes this album can be a little too slow for its own good, and some of the songs really need to be longer. This is definitely worth checking out, and How to Dress Well stand out as one of the best recent finds. Photobucket