Washed Out: “Mister Mellow” Album Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com

Chillwave music is always packed with plenty of emotions, but it can be hard to tell at times what those emotions are exactly – through the shoegazey walls of sound and the heavily tampered-with vocals, the genre is capable of sending the listener into state’s both dreamlike and mysterious. One of the pioneers of the genre is Earnest Greene who, under the moniker Washed Out, has now released three excellent albums that dive deep into these qualities. He explored themes of intimacy on his debut LP Within And Without You and then shifted to larger question of existence on the excellent Paracosm. Now he’s back with Mister Mellow, which is heavily influenced by the idea that “We all need to just chill, man.”

One quality that Mister Mellow shares with other  kinds of great albums is its length. The album is just under half an hour in length, but that’s perfectly enough time for the listener to be taken on an intense journey through the album’s sonic ups and downs. Many of the tracks, like the opening “Title Card” and the penultimate “Easy Does It” are under a minute in length and serve as brief interludes to many of the tracks. Although seemingly unrelated, the bits of spoken word on these short tracks give the album a sort of through line. Greene, not unlike his previous work, exploits feedings of ambiguity and uncertainty, and this is expressed through stream-of-conscious narratives along the lines ofMondayTuesdayWednesday/Everyday is the same.”

While the sentimentality of the EP Life Of Leisure and Paracosm remain intact on this album, it also brings forth an element that’s unique to the Washed Out catalogue: quirkiness. Many of the lush, blooming soundscapes created on the former two releases have been traded for something that sounds more like a druggy fun-house. The record may indeed be mellow, but it’s also erratic and, at times, just plain strange.

Longtime fans need not worry, however; the album contains some of Green’s beat melodic work to date. Tracks like “Burn Out Blues” and “Hard To Say Goodbye” are classic Washed Out, and while they may not exactly repeat the emotion of “Feel It All Around” or the musical texture of “New Theory”, they hold up on their own as an introduction to a new kind of chillwave.

Once again, Earnest Greene has proven himself to be one of indie pop’s major forces with this new release. There’s plenty of sonic fun and lyrical insight to go around on Mister Mellow, and with its shortness you’ll be able to listen to it twice straight through if you have an hour to spare. It will be exciting to see where Washed Out, and the chillwave movement, go next.