Washed Out – Within and Without Washed Out – Within and Without

I feel that I’ve written a book on Chillwave and Glo-Fi even before writing this review. To begin, chillwave and glo-fi are new music genres evoking the spirit of the 1980’s while exploiting the lo-fi template. Washed Out was initially identified at the inception of the genre but still remains less submerged as other innovators. Washed Out uses the feeling of sunbleached 80’s shorelines to his advantage but never allows it to become a gimmick. Within and Without is the artist’s first proper record following a long and glamorous introduction via blog fanfare. It is almost the beginning of the proper summer and Washed Out has just given us its first record.

Chillwave is a balancing act comprised of layering textures. Washed Out’s initial success was spurred by the narcotic single “Feel It All Around.” “Eyes Be Closed,” the first single for Within and Without is a sobering counterpoint to the artist’s initial release. While “Eyes Be Closed” still warbles with dreamy overtones, it is more aware and clear headed than what most people expected. Within and Without continues this theme by presenting an album with just the right amount of style with an equal amount of reason. Washed Out has no intention of burying his sound within echoes and synth but rather to create a pop record with the perfect amount of delay. While everything seems to be in order, Within and Without still suffers from an underwhelming quality — something that is almost as implacable as it is irreparable.

The whole of Within and Without is admirable barely seeing a scratch in the 40 minute running time. There are moments of near amazing quality including leading single and the album’s closer “A Dedication.” The album art is even stunning with its use of broken text and sensual photograph bleeding raw sexuality. Despite all the possibilities Within or Without possess, it never once gives the listener the extra step it is capable of. Songs are played and pass without a moment’s notice. The middle portion of the album blends together into a formless wave of fog and diamonds. This is disappointing as I was truly hoping for the summer’s first true record to be hidden deep inside.

I hate to give within Or Without a mediocre review because the album never once makes any attempt to posture or declare. Chillwave is a very passive genre that, while heavily contested, is never arrogant or demanding. Within and Without could be an album with a delayed release of appreciation rather than initial gratification. Other albums in the related dream pop genre such as Teen Dream by Beach House and jj n° 2 by jj grabbed listener’s attention from the beginning and never once let go. I really wanted to be swept off my feet with Within and Without. I wanted to experience the endless summer and watch the sunrise in 1986. Maybe someday, but not today.

1. Eyes Be Closed
2. Echoes
3. Amor Fati
4. Soft
5. Far Away
6. Before
7. You and I
8. Within and Without
9. A Dedication

Washed Out - Within and Without, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2011-07-12T09:34:51-07:00 rating 3.2 out of 5

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