Ernest Greene returns from two highly acclaimed EPs under the alias “Washed Out” with his first full-length release, Within and Without, a title that fits the dichotomous nature of the album’s content.
Keeping in tune with Greene’s lo-fi and hazy soundscapes, the album begins with “Eyes Be Closed,” a summer gem with ‘wave-crashing’ synths, echoic tom drums, and blurry vocals. On the following cut, “Echoes,” Greene’s synth work is reminiscent of 90’s Night at the Roxbury clubland, but his vocals manage to set a more serious and dark tone. “Amor Fati,” an album highlight, is equipped with pulsating chords, driving percussion, and soaring vocals; a track likely to be heard at any hipster rooftop dance party. “You And I,” uses a beautifully constructed vocal sample as its refrain; having an undeniably catchy chorus and verse melody, as well as featuring guest vocals from the smooth and seductive Caroline Polachek (of Chairlift), this is perhaps the most dynamic and rewarding cut off the album. Though many of the songs seem to follow a similar structure and sequence (refrain introduction, building percussion, beat drop, verse, chorus, verse, bridge, climactic chorus, bridge, fade out), the most successful are those that embrace and emphasize it. Some of the more repetitious and lackluster cuts, such as “Soft” and “Within and Without,” give the album a nice intermission and subtle dynamic, but are less exciting as standalone pieces.
Overall, Within and Without is a debut full-length that captures the essence of a new voice in current music; a voice that is still developing and curious, but has surely created something new and exciting by referencing the old and innovating upon it.