Washed Out - Within And Without (Sub Pop)

Brendan Morgan revisits Washed Out to see how they've progressed with their new record.

Released Aug 8th, 2011 via Sub Pop / By Brendan Morgan
Washed Out - Within And Without (Sub Pop) It wasn’t all that long ago that Life of Leisure EP blazed through the blogsphere taking its creator Ernest Greene out of his bedroom and on a multi-country tour. Like many who’d heard the record or the single ‘Feel It All Around’, I was captivated by the euphoric and dreamy mood constructed from sun kissed synths and a slow pounding club beat – everything sounding as if it was fed through the warm hiss of cassette tape. It was a staggeringly beautiful record and rescued me from the tedium of a hot summer spent at work. I recommended it to anything with ears.

Reacting to the chorus of praise from the internet, a career was kicked into gear swifter than a Tesco’s going up in Bristol. But I’ll tell you now, Within and Without rises to the challenge. It may lack the sublime impact the debut had but on hearing the same lazy pop-tronics, the same rich wave of light and colour, the same veiled vocal harmonies of soothing sibilance; it ticks all the right boxes. In no time, his loved-up party tunes could easy eclipse bigger acts like Calvin Harris.

Of course, Life of Leisure wasn’t a perfect debut. ‘Soft’ and ‘Far Away’ make up a vacant and watery interlude that rehashes some of the same mistakes. But I’ve heard it said that as long as the opening and ending are good people don’t worry about the middle. ‘Before’ brings the sun back out with its big beat and cool voice sample hook. At 2:27 into the title track, a familiar song structure dematerialises into a pool of twinkling synthesizers. This fades into ‘A Dedication’ where a simple piano tune and Greene’s singing on top (the only time his voice shines clear in the mix) closes the album on an intimate note.

I ended my first review uncertain whether Washed Out could survive the nihilistic frenzy of internet hype. It was stupid to feel so protective and it will be great to see how deep into sensation and psychedelic disco he’ll go. Take it with you to this summers festivals or road trips. Memories await a soundtrack.