Ernest Greene has come a long way from his childhood room in his parent’s house. That location being his studio for the recording of his, and in a way the chillwave mini-genre’s breakout EP, 2009’s Life Of Leisure. Substantial buzz, blog-certification and record deal with Sub Pop will relieve that inconvenience though as Washed Out has moved on from his humble beginnings and taken his groove-centric lo-fi pop into a true studio. Within and Without is all the better for it, Greene now has the tools at his fingertips to allow chillwave a true expansion from its initial limitations. The record is more than a collection of mediocre syncopated beats with reverb drenched synths and unintelligible coos; Washed Out have become energized with live instrumentation, a deeper musical palette and a distinct sense of direction. Life Of Leisure was a fitting title as the EP felt like a constant search on the part of Greene whereas Within and Without is Ernest floating along the borders of pop and shoegaze—the realms we damned him to—diving in to cherry pick influences as he likes. Moving within his desired aesthetic to squeeze every inch of woozy-appeal out of his acid-soaked bedroom pop without leaving behind what made Washed Out appealing in the first place: Greene’s undeniable air of relaxation.
Earlier this year Greene’s chilled-out cohort Toro Y Moi attempted a much similar step away from the chillwave-confines via live instrumentation and a bigger studio budget with his sophomore record Underneath The Pine. Like Washed Out, Toro Y Moi was a kid from the South East United States who was thrust into a relatively intense lime-light following what was essentially a lackadaisical pop album the then college student had crafted in his spare time. Unlike Greene though, Toro drowned himself in his own ambition over exaggerating his expansion into live instrumentation and effectively shed all the charm his sound once carried. Greene does well to avoid this complete disconnect, instead harnessing this veil of secrecy he was granted by virtue of his obscurity and using this record as a true debut of his talents. He relishes in the dreamy pop atmosphere that’s become his calling-card (check the title track’s exquisite key fills and synth lines) instead of becoming at odds with it. Underneath The Pine was an average indie-pop record; Within and Without is chillwave via the Cinema.
Corny as it may sound songs like “Eyes Be Closed” and its tinges of minimalist house or the delightfully Primal Scream-esque “Amor Fati” and “Soft” pop off the record. Washed Out flourishes in this atmosphere he’s created but it is no longer the focal point of his music. He pushes everything directly into your face prompting close examination. But Within And Without is not content to simply sit by; “Before” and its twinkly beginnings wash and brood before a deep, warm beat kicks in and Greene takes the vocal reigns. Strangely enough his hushed mumbles become uplifting as the song demands attention and resisting its groove is less and less appealing. Falling into Within snd Without is simply too easy though it can be alarming how quickly it is to fall out (closing piano-ballad “A Dedication” is endearing if albeit unexceptional) but that does not stop Greene from proving there may be well more to Washed Out than a breakout summer and the “genre” he helped create. If Within and Without is any indication of where he has to go: book my ticket and I will see you there.
3. Amor Fati
5. Far Away
7. You and I
8. Within and Without
9. A Dedication
Washed Out is Ernest Greene, a young guy from Perry, Georgia, USA who makes bedroom synthpop that sounds blurred and woozily evocative, like someone smeared Vaseline all over an early OMD demo tape, then stayed up all night trying to recreate what they heard.... read more