The hard facts: Tom Krell put philosophy studies on the back burner three years ago to record exquisitely desolate bedroom pop. On 2012’s Total Loss, otherworldly synths set the stage for poignantly crooned reflections on mourning and depression.
Emotional range: Whiskey-swigging slow cuts that both haunt and tranquilize are Krell’s currency, and he draws on ’80s icons (Prince, Janet Jackson) to further the raw melancholy.
Onstage delivery: Bare-bones piano, violin swells and two musicians often hidden in total darkness accompany Krell’s falsetto. At times, his voice soars with two microphones; elsewhere, with none.
Key track: The minimal beat and layered vocals of “& It Was U” exemplify the Brooklyn singer’s nontraditional take on R&B.
Alternate identity: For all the somber themes in his music, Krell is a blithe tweeter. Sample: “man the crowd in manila last night was pure energy! it was totally inspiring! <3 Philippines so so so so much cannot wait to come back!”—Marley Lynch