You absolutely can’t talk chillwave without mentioning Washed Out. The project from Ernest Greene has been around for nearly 10 years now, and his sound is still at the pinnacle of the genre. Washed Outs first two albums were built from the same chillwave cloth, Paracosm being his defining work thus far. Mister Mellow certainly isn’t a defining work by any means, but it is an album that opens a new space for Washed Out to explore and make his own.
This is going to sound lofty, but at the end of a couple listens to the album I felt a very heavy Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon vibe. When you go from songs like ” and “Any Colour You Like” on Dark Side, you know you’re listening to the same band but the latter song isn’t even in the same world as the former. The ability for Pink Floyd to keep the same feel throughout and album but distort and twist it in so many wonderful ways is why they’re so incredible. Washed Out has that going for him in Mister Mellow.
It is a very different album from his previous albums; don’t expect the slow, sleepy, wistful beats and lyrics album wide. He’s borrowed heavily from the influence of 60s and 70s funk music with use of some funk bass lines, horns, vibraphones and clean jazzy pianos. Unaltered drum kits, bongos and djembe’s play a major part in the beats on this album and its my favorite departure from his previous work. Theres an actual radio friendly song on this album in “Floating By.” In this song the lyrics are clearer, the beat is easier to navigate and the instrumentals aren’t too radical. Where he really surprises is his work on shorter songs and interludes used throughout the album.”Time Off,” “Down and Out” and “Easy Does It” are more spoken word driven interludes and help to give the album and its songs a sense of place with crowds talking, cars passing by, horns honking in the background. The song not to miss on this album is “Hard to Say Goodbye.” The passion exuded in this song vocally and lyrically doesn’t happen often with Washed Out and is so freaking cool to listen to.
You swore that we would never be apart
You wanted this
Even though you said you wanna go
It’s hard to say goodbye
It’s fast paced song, tightly wound through a beautiful horn and orchestral melody. The last song, “Million Miles Away,” is his most familiar sounding song. The same airy vocals, head-in-the-clouds lyrics and synth instrumentals take the album out in typical Washed Out style.
Mister Mellow is paired with an absolutely incredible visual album that has an intro and some interludes done by a fictional talk show host played by Kyle Mooney. Its hilarious and beautiful at the same time and the visual artists, including Greene himself, absolutely nailed it on this one. This new direction with his music and video storytelling is exciting, and as I said in the intro, its opened this huge new space of music to explore and create in. Mister Mellow is a surprising and beautiful album from Washed Out that is worth way more listens than I would usually recommend.