Washed Out, Life of Leisure, EP Review


Don't forget to rate this album at the end of the post (something I'm trying out)
Washed Out
Life of Leisure EP


Mexican Summer
out October 20th

[Rating Scale]


Life of Leisure is an appropriate title for an EP that sounds like partying all night in a dark, sweaty room and waking up on a beach at dawn next to someone you like, cold sand in your hair. Like night-swimming, half your face submerged, and the moon across the water. Like walking home on sandy streets lined with resorts, gently holding someone’s hand, feeling in your chest the distant pulsing bass from basements and passing cars. It sounds like something sweet and simultaneously sharp – fruit-flavored vodka? It doesn’t sound like dance music or party music or techno music – it is a sensuous electronic whirlwind, but that isn’t really a genre, is it?

There is great pop sensibility to this EP: the electro-sexiness you usually hear behind the vocal stylings of Justin Timberlake, production-altered vocals, a youthful energy. Songs like “Get Up” have a kind of quiet, wistful mystery, shrouded in fuzz and fog, heavy bass and sharp computerized percussion, something to shake your head and your hips to. Others, like “You’ll See It” (my favorite) and “New Theory” are synth riffs reminiscent of a more electronic Cure, heavily produced vocals, and a fantastic positivity. It is quite sexy, maybe without meaning to be – Ernest Greene, Washed Out’s mastermind, has a great, lush voice; the tempo of some songs is reminiscent of passionate slow-dances; the bass throbs and pulsates beneath everything.

Washed Out knows how to write a pop song, and therein lies its greatest problem. It knows how to write a pop song, really, a single variety – that distant voice, those loops of computer fuzz, drum machine, thudding bass. For better or worse, Life of Leisure blends together – it could be one song, or it could be six. This lends both a great sense of continuity and a less great tendency to getting a little boring in the middle. The first and second and sixth tracks are the only three that truly stood out to me. And three out of six isn’t bad, certainly, but it isn’t good either. I doubt it was Greene’s intention to create a collection of music that could so easily fade into the background, all connected. The songs are well-crafted, certainly, but perhaps too alike to be perfect.

Whatever the case, Life of Leisure has the bittersweet taste of the end of summer all wrapped up in a seventeen-minute package, quite a good set of songs for those days when you have to look back and think hard to remember everything – every sleepless night dancing, every star in the sky, the sound of waves on every vacant beach.

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