In rotation: Washed Out's 'Within and Without'
A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers & contributors are listening to right now...
On music blogs over the last couple of years, the roiling debate over a genre ironically titled “chillwave” proved unavoidable. The aesthetic typically combines indie lo-fi with the glitch of bedroom electronica — and above all, a nostalgic embrace of ’80s synth-pop. Ernest Greene, a twentysomething based in Atlanta, helped foment chillwave with his initial releases as Washed Out — fuzzy, sample-based experiments, hardly the stuff of full albums.
Washed Out’s beguiling LP debut, “Within and Without,” defies expectations, however. Greene’s ’80s fixation remains but now in fully fleshed-out compositions imbued with lush atmospheres and gentle, soft-focus hooks. Despite the synthetic instrumentation, the songs teem with emotion: Greene’s hushed vocals exude a beautiful tone that embodies the longing of a John Hughes movie. Like Air’s “Moon Safari,” Roxy Music’s “Avalon,” or the Postal Service’s “Give Up,” “Within and Without” suggests a moment-defining “lifestyle” record that will play endlessly in hotel lobbies, hip boutiques and on KCRW; despite the trendy signifiers, though, it ultimately proves a triumph of substance over style.
“Within and Without”
— Matt Diehl