“But other than that everything else is
Still boring and the same
But I like music
If it sounds good I’ll listen to it
Music plays a big part in keeping me happy or
Keeping me just
From not flipping out”
The first word that comes to mind when describing Washed Out’s iconic sound is “imagination”. Instead of following the repetitive pop-like trends set by other electronic and chillwave musicians, Ernest Greene continues to cradle the listener with hypnotic beats, his iconic transient lyrics, and a new perspective on urban lifestyle. Mister Mellow focuses on the unfocused – the brand new America that feels cramped, fast, worried, but seeking creative freedom to combat the mass corporate agenda.
The album entrances the listener with different feelings that one might have when living in major metropolitan area, such as the fear of missing deadlines and the self-imposed thoughts of failure covered by the glossy images city sheik. These are portrayed at times by harsh impromptu jazz trills and beats that peek through the smooth bass drip and heighten the senses of urgency and vulnerability.
Throughout the album, the listener is reminded that the best way to remain mentally stable is to create and lose themselves within the beauty of the madness, or get really stoned. Either way relaxation can be produced if one is willing to open their imagination.
As for the production of the album, the sound quality is like butter and is easy to listen to at various levels. The bass hugs you while the reverberated vocals float easily in the back of the mix. Like his prior albums, Greene focuses on the instrumentation–setting the mood for the vocals to add some sugar on top. MIDI staccato notes flavors it as well, accompanying the jazz/Latin high-hat shimmers. Transitioning samples of city noise and discussion seamlessly introduces each song and reinstates the theme of the album without becoming annoying and repetitive.
Washed Out has continued to remain fresh without sacrificing his own identity as an artist, all while showing musical growth; it proves we can expect much more from him in the near future. Expanding within the “chillwave” genre can be difficult but Greene manages to do it seamlessly.