As one of this year’s breakthrough artists, Washed Out has filled bedrooms, iPods and days with kaleidoscopic soundscapes with an abundance of nonchalant charm.
Ernest Greene created Washed Out’s expansive sun-bleached melodies in his bedroom, a space easy enough to fill. In the wake of Washed Out’s popularity, the need to fill larger spaces seems to have done harm to those breezy compositions. Highlighted in his set in Charing Cross’s Heaven, Greene substituted measured atmospherics with chaotic synths and a superfluous band.
As the realisation of what lacked sunk in, I shook my head and I saw the expectations I had held for the night fall and shatter as they hit the floor. Greene’s astral chillwave was nowhere to be found. In its place was a heavy fog of synthesizers, in which the extra band members added nothing positive to the sound
Even in areas where Greene himself should have shone, such as vocals, he failed to show his worth. Alright, admittedly the vocals on Greene’s debut ‘Within and Without’ aren’t the most pronounced. Yet they add an air of mystery that is mixed with an allure of relaxed cool. In this setting, however, songs like ‘Eyes Be Closed’ and ‘Amor Fati’ both started and ended in a blur. They became lost in the synth wilderness and without hope.
There were times, though, when recognisable notes emerged amidst the hazy distortion. ‘Beyond’, ‘Feel It All Around’ and Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ were greeted with bubbling excitement when they started. Despite their potential, they too fell prey to the dominant rehashed 80's synths.
Oblivious as they were to the insult they were making of Washed Out’s debut, Greene and co.appeared to be having fun; if only it was warranted.