Scott Creney

Washed Out – Within And Without (Sub Pop)

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Look, I can appreciate art for art’s sake. And I don’t need meaning to have a good time. But I like I said earlier, this particular brand of music is popping up all over the place here in America. This music literally sounds like being in a shopping mall. And not the kind of shopping mall that has the army recruiting offices and the Forever 21. I’m talking about the malls that have the stores that sell the hundred dollar jeans. Washed Out is a soundtrack for passive consumption, for the blissfully ignorant to wallow like pigs at the late-capitalist mudbath. And if Ernest Greene has a problem with that, maybe he should try making music that isn’t so easily turned into a billboard. And if his fans have a problem with that, well, they’ll be working in middle-management soon enough, now won’t they? I hope they enjoy their hour-long commute into the city, their loveless marriage and spoiled bratty kids, and I hope they enjoy getting fat and watching television for the rest of their stupid miserable lives. Take some more pills, assholes. Nevermind the side effects, here’s Washed Out.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Sorry. Got a little carried away there. I’m sorry. These spasms of white hatred aren’t like me, but something in this album keeps pushing my buttons and I’m trying to figure out what it is. It’s not a chillwave thing, either. Neon Indian doesn’t do this to me. Or Ariel Pink. And I think Animal Collective/Panda Bear have been making some of the most imaginative, forward-thinking music of the past decade. And it’s not just a hipster thing, or a class thing, either. I think the last Vampire Weekend album was brilliant, and Ezra Koenig might be the most clever non-hip-hop lyricist since Elvis Costello (you can debate the merits of cleverness among yourselves).

So what’s my fucking problem with Washed Out? Am I being unfair? Probably. Am I ascribing all kinds of values to Washed Out’s music that may or may not be there? Quite possibly. Am I bringing all kinds of personal value systems into what’s supposed to be a music review? No question. But this is what I hear when I listen to Washed Out. You want me to say something nice? Fine. I give him credit for sounding modern. You may not hear a more accurate sonic representation of 21st Century privileged and wealthy young America.

Music to help you forget. Music to watch television to. Music to snort coke to. Music to help you justify cutting taxes for the rich to. Music to sleep until noon to. Music to get plastic surgery to. Music to watch innocent people die to.

Of course it’s also music to shoplift to. Music to hopefully one day inspire a riot.

But I’m sure most of you will find it all very pleasant and reassuring. I hear Ernest is a really nice guy.

In the meantime, take pills to help your depression (you’ll still be depressed). Take pills to help your anxiety (you’ll still be afraid). Take pills to help you pay attention (you’ll still be distracted). Take pills to alleviate your pain (you’ll still get hurt).

(Although it kind of ruins the aesthetics of the review, I feel obligated to point out here that Panda Bear’s song is about trying to find the strength and support to NOT take pills. Also, it does everything that Washed Out does a thousand times better than Washed Out does it.)

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