Review: Washed Out – Within And Without

Washed Out, the nom de plume of Georgia, USA’s Ernest Greene, belongs to the recently coined genre of  “Chillwave”, whose members largely consist of bedroom producers with a synth fixation or – as New York Times’ Jon Pareles puts it – “they trade on memories of electropop from the 1980s, with bouncing, blipping dance-music hooks (and often weaker lead voices)”. It’s a slightly dismissive description but not an entirely inaccurate one.

There are moments on Greene’s debut album where the music sounds almost too clean; as minty fresh as a toothpaste commercial. As such, the likes of ‘Amor Fati’ and ‘You And I’ are attractive but superficially so. At is best, however, it’s hard to resist the lure of this machine-made product, from the moment its shuddering intro takes hold, ‘Echoes’ seems special. The song is strangely moving and Greene’s breathy vocals wash over the beautiful noise like a cool wave. ‘Before’ is shapely perfectly to hypnotise and seduce the listener into exploring its layers of effects and gorgeous melody. The final song, ‘A Dedication’, meanwhile, is even brave enough to strip away some of the sumptuous surroundings; revealing piano keys and Greene’s vocal at its most vulnerable and perhaps pointing the way to the next release.

Regardless of what some may say about the lack of heart in this kind of music (and Canada’s Junior Boys, for example, seem to have a lot more depth), ‘Within And Without’ contains a remarkably addictive set of songs. So if this is the future of synthpop, chillwave, or whatever title has been bestowed, we should be prepared to embrace it.

Web Sites:
Washed Out Official Site

Further Listening:
Maps, Brothertiger, Junior Boys

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