Washed Out Life of Leisure Review

EP. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Long favourite of the chillwave scene releases his UK debut.

Mike Diver 2010

Chillwave, dream-pop, glo-fi, whatever – sub-genre classifications count for nothing if the music they describe isn’t up to much. Fortunately for Georgia-based solo artist Ernest Weatherly Greene, aka Washed Out, his output is of a refined quality amongst several protagonists of the blogosphere’s present pigeonhole fixation. These are sounds to surround, to sweep up broken men and make them whole again.

Life of Leisure is one of two EPs Greene has released to date (good luck finding the first, the High Times cassette), and came out in the US last year. Its delay in officially reaching these shores seems bizarre given the healthy online buzz around the artist in question, but it does arrive shortly after the first-ever Washed Out dates in Europe. He toured with Small Black as his backing band, and the two acts share stylistic traits – both craft lo-fi indie pop that crackles charmingly. But while Small Black’s tunes have a sense of direction and purpose, these six cuts are more concerned with drifting in an ocean of calm.

Few will find much depth to Washed Out’s arrangements – written and recorded in a bedroom, they sound cheap despite an affecting beauty within the warm washes of Feel It All Around and the Russian Futurists-on-a-downer summer evening saunter of New Theory. That’s part of the appeal, of course – had these songs been given the full studio treatment there’s no way they’d come across as the seductive, but slight, pieces they are. But there’s a shelf-life to fare like this, and it’s nearing its expiry date.

Not that Washed Out need worry too much. Greene has long been a favourite of the scene that he, arguably, was a foremost factor in forming. If he’d wanted to strike out, and take things to the next level commercially, he might well have done so already. His music doesn’t skitter like Toro Y Moi, and it doesn’t slap out 80s riffs like Memory Tapes (though it’s partial to a sample); rather, it just exists in a delicate bubble all of its own, and Life of Leisure acts as both a fine introduction and quite possibly a ‘greatest hits’ set. What comes next is unlikely to trigger the same response, but that should not take away from a brief, but alluring, record that is completely of its time yet bleached by the passing of years its 26-year-old maker hasn’t lived through himself.

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