Album Review: Washed Out

'Do you remember the '90s? People were talking about getting piercings and tribal tattoos; people were singing about saving the planet, and forming bands...'

If you recognise this line from the hipster-poking TV series Portlandia, you may also recognise the theme song, 'Feel It All Around', a dreamy pop gem from Washed Out's 2009 Life of Leisure EP.

Described as 'chillwave for people who can't stand chillwave', the music of Washed Out (aka Ernest Greene) is the tall poppy of this unfortunately pigeonholed genre. Sure it's vast and synth-heavy. Sure there's hazy vocals and Balearic undertones.

But spend some time with Washed Out's outstanding and rapturously awaited debut full length LP, Within and Without, and you'll soon see that Greene has clearly marked out his own territory within an increasingly crowded movement.

Admittedly, if you've got your player set to repeat, the first time you take Within and Without for a spin it's hard to know when it ends and when it starts again. But listen again and, like any music with true longevity, you'll uncover the light and the shade, and discover something deeply compelling and intelligently earnest in Greene's music.

All of the nine album tracks were recorded with mastermind Ben Allen, who co-produced Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion. It's not all gold, and you'd be forgiven for feeling the urge to hit the skip button from time to time.

But standout tracks 'Before', 'Eyes Be Closed' and 'You and I' work to lift the album beyond its constant atmospheric hum, delivering what could easily become the soundtrack to every sun-drenched moment of your summer.

The album's strongest moment comes with 'A Dedication', an epic heart-breaker and that rare kind of track that would be equally fitting as a soundtrack to falling in love or a funeral procession. Or maybe both.

For a limited time you can stream the entire album on this here page, but with cover art that rivals any American Apparel ad, Within and Without is well worth forking out the cash to own in all its tangible glory.

One last thing to end all this gushing: make sure you check out the Grimes remix of 'Eyes Be Closed' below, released on the 12" single by Weird World alongside remixes by Star Slinger and Lovelock.

A mad tune, and a fitting accompaniment to an album that's well worth the wait.

Sophie Hirst 

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