Bedroom chill-wave sensation, Ernest Weatherly Greene Jr. returns with his fourth full-length album as Washed Out, Purple Noon. Beginning his career in 2009 after receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia with a Master of Library and Information Science, Greene found better and sustainable work producing lo-fi rock within his studio bedroom and was discovered through means of Myspace.
For fans of the beloved IFC Portland satire show of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia, was a pinnacle point in Greene’s career when his song “Feel It All Around” was chosen as the show’s introduction theme song. Since then, Washed Out has seen a rise in popularity.
In 2017, Washed Out released his third studio album, Mellow Yellow, incorporating a more modern contemporary sound through a mix of miscellaneous noises collaged with his ‘drowsy’ synths still reaching that point of narcosis Greene manages to present to the table time and time again. Washed Out’s sound has often generally been placed as “drowsy and distorted,” offering something psychedelically blissful, calming and light, something people may just find in the early morning at their local coffee shop.
For old time fans of Washed Out, listeners may find Purple Noon in close comparison to Greene’s older works in Within and Without and Paracosm. Purple Noon opens with “Too Late” that brings almost reggae-like percussion elements overlaid by Greene’s chill warping synths; heavy dropping drums and fast warped synths give necessity to head bop along.
Dialed down two notches, “Face Up” gives a passionate narcotic rhythm that relates closely to the floral ambiance found back in 2013’s Paracosm, offering a sensation that should be shared with a loved one or significant other. “Time to Walk Away” streams in at the third run-up, giving a melodic dance beat intensifying upon the formulated quick one-second drum breakdowns to restore the upbeat atmosphere; the track also has a music video up to express the feelings of passion Greene usually brings for listeners to envision alongside his work.
Like something that relates to Chaz Bear’s Toro y Moi, “Paralyzed” shows an R&B influence through an example of Greene’s vocal style here; “Paralyzed” is ambivalently coaxing and energetic due to Greene’s lo-fi vocals and sugary synths opposite to the vigorous hard-hitting percussions. Synthetically tropical, “Reckless Desires” presents a drowsy atmosphere with laden guitar strums and aerophone-like synth waves to complete an overall sympathetic composition.
Making use of laden guitar strums once more, “Game of Chance” is a tearful melody by use of soft synths, guitar and vocals composing a lo-fi atmosphere that is sympathetically gloomy; it’s always best to place one’s emotions with a melody and “Game of Chance” is a melody that can surely fill the meaning of sadness. Dialing the emotion up half a notch, “Leave You Behind” plays shortly afterward with a similar tone and feeling to “Game of Chance” with more cheerful synths but the same amount of passion presented afore.
Though anyone can say any song can match the same vibe as previous albums, “Don’t Go” represents the general musical vibe given in 2011’s Within and Without, bringing Greene’s classic uplifting synths and heavy backdropped drums for a solid five-minute reminiscent breakdown. Arduous thumping percussions and riveting light highlighted guitar riffs make for a somber, upbeat dance melody that alludes to that of a mix between Small Black and Glass Lux in “Hide,” thrashing in one’s mid-afternoon music jam out session has never been so delicate till now.
Concluding Purple Noon comes “Haunt,” living up to its title through repetitive ‘haunting’ lo-fi synths and the occasional splash of tambourines topped by Greene’s extenuated and compassionate vocals to drive this album home. If it wasn’t clear, Washed Out, since his origins, has always captured something passionate and serene in all his productions and does so once more with Purple Noon, adding onto the collection of lighthearted, narcotic melodies so many have enjoyed this past decade.