Review Summary: A soothing mesh of dream and synthpop, consisting of a singer, his computer and a deeply instilled 80's pop inspiration.
Call it a summer hit or a unique musical fashion, or even another progeny of the synthesizer: Chillwave, or “Glo-Fi,” is a controversial genre creeping in-between the pop, indie and electronic scenes with increased Internet hype. Described as “electro-pop from the 1980s…recession-era music [that’s] low-budget and danceable" by New York Times' Jon Pareles, its controversy stems to the fact that doesn't actually exist yet. Ernest Greene is more or les"s the first to attempt this sound, taking it even more intimately into the bedroom with Within and Without."
What we have here is Greene’s first LP, a modern mesh of synth-pop consisting of a singer and his trusty computer, filled with ambiance and experimental trance-like beats inspired by various aspects of eighties music. The ‘chill’ in "Chillwave" doesn’t seem to fit much at first, and feels more like romantic music to doze off to before hitting the sack. There's the relaxing “Eyes Be Closed,” and a darker dance beat of “Echoes," and the moody ear-candy to "Far Away" that showcases Greene's decorous vocals, allowing the music to flourish across his relaxed landscapes. And even more important is the improvement in production in comparison to the cassette-sound of his EP's High Times and Life of Leisure. As is Washed Out's modus operandi, everything is carefully crafted to polish any blemish with a calm and collected approach. Only a few areas are hard to grasp, like the tambourine led psychedelic approach of “Amor Fati” or the track "Before," bearing the most similarity to his older work, and sure to be either a favorite with older listeners or the odd child of the album to new listeners. “You and I” takes the most powerful hit combining back and forth vocals with him and guest singer "Caroline Polachek." The ending is a reminiscent and lost love tuned finale “A Dedication."
Nearly every moment is as good as its last, and every melodies is captivating, even if the tempo is sharply downplayed from High Times and much more relationship and settling-down themed than the partyesque Life of Leisure. Things here are more sincere, moody and lacking progressing beats. With most songs here structured around a piano theme or a synthesized vibe, his voice never stands out as it did before. It’s not an aimed album in any form, but it creates a perfect foundation for other artists to gain inspiration from, and while the genre is still in its soft, harmless infant stage, it could –in the near future- become the new conventional pop trend.