Washed Out – Mister Mellow
About 5 years ago I stumbled across Washed Out’s first full length release, 2011’s Within Without, and became an instant fan of Ernest Greene’s, the guy who is anything but washed out. He truly upped his game with the release of Paracosm a couple of years later. It made my top 10 list for 2013 easily. And now the seemingly long wait for new material is over with Mister Mellow, a name which brings to mind the smooth jazz mid-’70s trumpet of Maynard Ferguson. While this album isn’t that much of a departure for Washed Out it does have a different feel than his previous work.
All of Washed Out’s material seems to drift almost aimlessly and effortlessly between styles and genres, creating a musical journey that can sometimes feel collage-like while somehow staying within the realm of the chill wave genre. The biggest difference with Mister Mellow to me is how even when it morphs into an upbeat segment it is still very laid back in its production and approach. The album is so much this way that I’m not sure if its best listened to late at night as a come down or on a lazy sunny morning, so I’m going to go with both! In the past I’ve been asked to describe Washed Out’s sound as I was waxing poetical about them to an uninitiated listener. I finally settled on saying “Imagine The Beach Boys being remixed by The Orb” (yes, I know I’m strange). Well even stranger I said that repeatedly a number of years ago and it feels to me to be truer on Mister Mellow than ever.
Another cool aspect of this record is that included with the CD (and on his website and YouTube) is a DVD of a visual version of the album. I like that they are not called music videos for the songs because they are much more abstract than that. The material runs the gamut from weird stop motion animation to trippy collages to what appear to be old home movies. All of the visuals from the stunning to the mundane compliment the music nicely creating an enjoyable alternative way to experience the album but they are not essential and, sorry Ernest but this is a compliment, will never be the equal of the mental imagery his music creates for me all by itself.