After two amazing EPs, Washed Out has finally dropped a full-length studio album: Within And Without. Washed Out (aka Atlanta’s, Ernest Greene) first caught people’s attention back in 2009 after placing some bedroom-recorded tunes on MySpace, which would later appear on the notable and first Life of Leisure EP. It’s here that fans began to really notice the 28-year-old songwriter and producer’s musical talents to create retro-pop inspired indie tunes.
Positioned as a “chillwave” musician in the likes of Toro y Moi, Greene expands on his continuous cool production on his debut album, which also showcases a more refined and mature Washed Out. Using more live instruments on the album than in previous efforts, as well as using darker and more melodramatic tones, Greene seems to have found his musical niche. Probably because it lends it self to working with his new band when doing live shows.
The nine-track album opens with “Eyes Be Closed,” a synth-pop piece with ethereal vocals that almost seem to be in tandem with the entire arrangement — sort of like they’re getting lost in each other. If you actually close your eyes, the piece floats on as though it were backdrop music to a dream. “Echoes” seamlessly flows in next and immediately captures your attention thanks to some ’80s synths and a very alluring baseline. Vocals, again, seem to flutter in before things start getting electro-fied (which is the best part). It’s definitely one of the album’s most notable tracks for its interesting play on tempos.
“Soft” is another mesmerizing piece, with its aura-like intro laced over a very intricate soft beat, Washed Out’s soothing vocals definitely glue it all together. It’s another tune where everything just seems to fit together perfectly, as if it were all a puzzle. Both vocals and instrumentation all become meshed into one long note. The title track, “Within and Without,” holds a very steady and consistent beat, while the vocals come in and out in a very melancholy way, making them sound almost drone-ish. It’s the fluttering synths near the end that really push the track forward.
Within and Without celebrates Greene’s growth from bedroom musician to full-fledged artist in the guise of Washed Out. As a very comprehensively mid-tempo album, I still prefer the tracks from Washed Out’s Life of Leisure effort for the mere fact that they provide more personality due to its upbeat nature, with songs like “New Theory,” “Hold Out” and “Lately.”
Words: Kristie Bertucci
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