CD review: Washed Out, Within and Without

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The chillwave movement has wrapped me in its ambient embrace and I've been most recently floored by Ernest Greene's one-man electroproject, Washed Out. The musician dishes out four-minute servings of synthy, 1980s-inspired audio sugar and pulls me into a Cinderella-style bubble of soothing happiness. For those four minutes, the world stops and nothing exists but the smeared paint swooshes of sound floating around. It's all so warm and fuzzy and zombificating that I don't even notice it's gotten dark in the kitchen, the album has looped twice, and I've washed only three spoons and a coffee mug.

Washed Out follows two promising 2009 EPs with his first full-length, Within and Without (out today via Sub Pop), and it's something to scream for ice cream about. More consistently palatable than some chillwavers (Neon Indian, I'm talking to you), Greene's buzzing, lyrically-unintelligible harmonies are like passive distress signals coming up from a very deep well, through the water, and they express something to the effect of, "We may have some heavy feelings, but we don't have to get pinned under them. Let's forget about what's outside for 40 minutes." Greene makes a mood, not a point.

He also offers frequent nods to what was best about Pet Shop Boys-era chart toppers like "Eyes Be Closed," "You and I," and splotches of just about everything else. The album builds to its peak of danceability by "Amor Fati," and slowly descends into the song destined to be a prelude to intimate moments and marriage proposals everywhere: "A Dedication," the sleepy piano-centric album caboose. Even if you don't normally wear chillwave, don't let prejudice dissuade you from trying on this particular set of sonic textures. 4 Stars.

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