REVIEW: Washed Out – Mister Mellow

When we interviewed Ernest Greene (aka Washed Out) recently, Greene asked the question: does the world need another Washed Out record? That whole ‘chillwave’ era feels very 2009-hipster-post-university-and-moving-to-the-big-city, and the world has indeed changed quite a bit since then – hello tropical pop – so is there indeed a place for a new Washed Out record?

Of course there is, especially when it sounds like Mister Mellow, partly due to the fact that it isn’t just dutifully following on from Paracosm. It’s an album that steps out of the shadow of the genre Greene helped popularise, becoming its own all-encompassing structure that’ll be helping us (and Greene himself) navigate our way into being proper, ugh, adults.

Mister Mellow starts off with a short 30 seconds (a little off-putting as an opener because, er, who is that coughing?). But the first proper track Burn Out Blues introduces the new sound that Washed Out is trying: a bigger, lusher, overtly-sampling sound that shows that Ernest Greene isn’t just a bedroom producer any more. Moving to the more beat-focused label (Stones Throw) seems to have given Greene the confidence to explore and hone his skills, drawing on influences such as J. Dilla and sounding like Bonobo on songs like Floating By and the various instrumental tracks on the album.

Though there are traces of his chillwave origins, the latter half of the album is far more upbeat than previous records. The lead single Hard To Say Goodbye could even be described as a bit disco and that more accessible sound carries on into Get Lost. Greene uses reversed vocals and reverb to make it almost more indistinguishable than normal for Washed Out, but the additional samples of a party seem to hammer the millennial bug of trying to have a good time while covering the anxiety and insecurity we have… probably because we prefer smashed avocado to property.

As with previous Washed Out records, Mister Mellow feels like a summer album, but it’s the kind of summer when you’re stuck in the city mid-heatwave, trying to find a spot on a rooftop bar to drink a cold but overpriced craft beer or a deconstructed gin and tonic. With Washed Out’s past discography there’s always been that hazy feel but this is a different kind of summer – it’s claustrophobic, it’s too hot, it’s messy, and it’s not all shimmering crystal blue Instagram-friendly ocean. It’s seems more grounded, more real and as we all confront this new reality, one thing is for certain: the world really does need a new Washed Out record.

Polly Holton

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Washed Out - Mister Mellow
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