x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

CD review: Within and Without - Washed out

Behind the walls of electronic fuzz, there's a keen sense of songwriting.

Washed Out
Within and Without
(Sub Pop)
****

After sparking an outpouring from music bloggers of fawning adulation of a kind that had never been seen before (and may never be again) with the release of his debut EP Life of Leisure, Washed Out's name almost became synonymous with the career-damaging potential of internet hype.

Being branded as the chief exponent of the preposterous sounding "chillwave" (aka glow-fi) surely didn't help either. But on his first full-length release, the Georgia musician Ernest Greene has proved that buzz doesn't always kill.

Awash with blissful synths and drowsy vocals, Greene never really changes gear over the course of the album's nine tracks. Moving from one laid-back jam to the next, he conjures up a sound a bit like New Order but with all the rough edges sanded down. And it's not just Washed Out's aesthetic that's reminiscent of the Mancunian giants; from the brilliant opener Eyes Be Closed to the sublimely catchy Amor Fati and the beat-heavy Far Away, there's also a keen sense of pop songwriting behind the walls of electronic fuzz.

Within and Without has less variation than some might have hoped, and Greene creates a sound that is so direct and indulgent that it could almost be described as gaudy.

But an artist capable of such finely-tuned production and songwriting as this deserves to be not just a darling of the blogosphere, or even an indie favourite, but a household name.