There’s more punch to Washed Out’s third album, with its nostalgic hip hop beats and disco grooves. But the mellowness verges on being samey with the lost Beach Boys-like vocal harmonies
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It’s a sepia-hued world wafting of SPF and BBQ, Washed Out’s new album ‘Mister Mellow’ is the backing tune. Ice cold beer in hand, walking through a timeless daydream – the new release will please Coachella-goers, procrastinators and 60s bubbly font shapes.
It has stronger sounds compared to his previous two Chillwave albums, but it’s still just a soft contrast to the floral album ‘Paracosm’, and the oceanic debut album ‘Within and Without’. Released by hip hop label Stones Throw Records this time, there are echoes of his DJ Shadow influences.
Washed Out, real name Ernest Greene, is a symbol for all 21st century graduates: finish school with qualification. No job found (Librarian for Greene’s case). Live with the parents. A (music) side project develops. That then becomes full-time job. Having released three albums he’s doing something right.
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Greene has clearly tested new avenues of music production, including the disco-inspired track ‘Zonked’ and the jazzy ‘Get Lost’. Washed Out’s motif of warbling, subtle vocals runs throughout the album; the odd vocal sample in tracks like ‘Easy Does It’ adds more soul.
The album is mostly upbeat, with soft hip hop mixes, swaying rhythm and some bossa nova influences in tracks like ‘Floating By’. There’s even a piece that touches upon the hearts of Balearic Zero 7 fans – ‘I’ve Been Daydreaming My Entire Life’.
‘Hard To Say Goodbye’ and ‘Zonked’ is accented with disco loops and catchy drumbeats, and a muted trumpet adds some soul. ‘Get Lost’ is a dramatic piece, with jazz fusion and whimsical synths, easing into sounds that you hear at a Nikki Beach sunset pool-party. The final track ‘Million Miles Away’ is more refreshing, and echoes his more ambient earlier work ‘Amor Fati’.
‘Down and Out’ starts off like an opening to Travis’ ‘Sing’, but the warping instrumental intro stretches further, until a despondent vocal reads “My life, you know, it’s boring/ I’ve just been busy, sort of/ And bummed out, sort of”. It sways on with trippy fanfare sounds from the guitar chords, and the slow drum beats is accompanied with Pink Floyd-like chuckles. This is no Travis.
There’s more punch to Washed Out’s third album, with its nostalgic hip hop beats and disco grooves. But the mellowness verges on being samey with the lost Beach Boys-like vocal harmonies. It’s the album that is perfect to play on a summer’s day when you know you have errands to do but you don’t do them. That’s not say the album plays unnoticed. You hit repeat as you procrastinate. It’s a playful album that still holds it watery, chillwave roots.
‘Mister Mellow’ is out now via Stones Throw Records.