Washed Out: Within and Without

Sub Pop

Washed Out's Sub Pop debut, Within and Without, finds Ernest Greene returning to the same sonic ground he broke with 2009's Life of Leisure EP. But here the Atlanta-based bedroom producer refines his lingering electro-pop glow enough to expand his audience and thwart the blogosphere's attempts to pigeonhole his chillwave efforts. "Eyes Be Closed" and "Echoes" set a heavenly tone as only Washed Out can. But it isn't until "Amor Fati" comes crashing through that the album's exotic spirit reveals itself. Caribbean accents color the music with buoyant energy, and "Far Away" delivers exactly what Washed Out needs: deeper, darker grooves than his songs typically sport. Greene's penchant for soft-focus beats and post-coital atmosphere is pleasing but it easily wears thin. Still, Within and Without's peaks are greater than its valleys, and what this collection of synth-pop dreaminess lacks in emotional depth it makes up for with variety and catchy dance floor hits. (4 out of 5 stars)