Saturday, November 26, 2011

Album Review: Washed Out - Within And Without

When I was in high school, I was a theatre kid (and a cheerleader, but that's another story for another time). One of the plays we read that I loved above all others was by the incomparable Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest." There was something about Wilde's subtle digs at high society and purposefully mistaken identities that spoke to me.

So too does Washed Out speak to me (though, of course, minus the social barbs and meddlesome characters). And if you're wondering where I'm going with this, let's just say I've decided to reword the title to read The Importance of Being Ernest. As in, Ernest Greene, the one-man show that is the incomparable Washed Out. (OW? WO? Coincidence? I think not.)

I fell in love, like a great many of people, with the Life Of Leisure EP that took the indie world by storm. After all, "Feel It All Around" even serves as the theme music for the so very hot "Portlandia," which is quite possibly a show even Oscar Wilde might love, what with all that adorable satirizing of the denizens of Portland. Digressions aside, it's safe to say that I love Ernest's handiwork on his first LP Within And Without. Love love love. And love some more. This record takes the embers that started on Life Of Leisure and turns into into a forest fire, lighting up the night for miles and miles.

The same beautiful chill exists on Within And Without, but the sounds are, if possible, even more beautiful than the preceding EP. "Echoes" bounces along on blasts of icy air, touched with that haunting ache that Greene does so very well. Was Ernest referencing Nietzsche with "Amor Fati?" The song certainly has an air of being a "yes-sayer" and being "one of the ones who make things beautiful," for the song, and the album as a whole, are indeed quite beautiful.

"Far Away" is one of my favorites, never ceasing to cause my breath to catch in my throat with expectancy and regret, as seems to be the vibe of the song. In its subtle way, it's quite a powerful song. So too is "You and I," another of the Greene masterworks that makes me melt over and over again. Whether or not it's entirely intentional, the wistfulness that permeates these songs to me adds so very much to the appeal. Overall, this is one of the most atmospheric, lovely records I've heard in quite a while. Y'all know me, too, with a cover that like (the couple caught en flagrante delecto, to quoth Clue-era Tim Curry) I can't avoid the obvious and say that this record could certainly inspire many such a moment.

I suspect it won't be long before there's even more Washed Out on the airwaves, bringing the good word of Ernest Greene to the masses. And, as with the work of Oscar Wilde, the world shall then be a better place.

mp3: Amor Fati (Washed Out from Within And Without)

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