How To Dress Well first clicked for me when I stopped thinking of it as R&B and started thinking of it as noise music. The exact second that dawned on me was the exact second that Love Remains became an important album to me. It was all song sketches that used what was missing—those empty spaces—to convey heavy emotion. On Total Loss, which the original version of this track comes from, something different is going on. Vocals are more upfront, songs adhere to a more traditional structure. That overwhelming sense of feeling is still there, but it’s more accessible, less niche. It’s a pop record shaped from noise elements. Pete Swanson, who is a master at creating music that sometimes has a beat and sometimes sounds like someone scribbling really hard with a nail on a piece of metal nonstop for sixteen minutes, completely deconstructs “Cold Nites” drowning the vocals in a wash of white noise and echoed sonar pings. It’s a risky move to create something so alien out of something that will probably become familiar and important to a lot of listeners, but Swanson is more than up to the task, coaxing beauty and transcendence from noise.
Stream: How To Dress Well, “Cold Nites” (Pete Swanson Remix)