For bedroom pop aficionado and chillwave pioneer Ernest Greene, the latest project under the Washed Out psuedonym finds itself still leaning on those lo-fi-but-somehow-glossy pop imitations, while carving out new directions with influences in instrumental hip hop and alternative dance. Plunderphonics is nothing new for Washed Out, already familiar with chopped and screwed appropriations of synthpop obscura back on 2009’s High Times and Life of Leisure, but Mister Mellow exchanges those hazy sonic textures for a sound based in rhythms, grooves, and captivating sample hodge-podges. The palette’s just as dreamlike, just as cloudy, and just as nostalgia inducing, but Washed Out is doing so much different.
All of Mister Mellow’s tracks seem deceptively simple – they might sound casual, easygoing, sometimes even muzak with groove, but from the singles to the deep cuts, every track here is lush, layered, and rife with sounds be it sampled or synthesised. Washed Out might constantly cycle between longer alt-dance or dream pop tracks and those short, moody, and ambient interludes, but its an album that flows peacefully and effortlessly from one song to the next, gliding from the lo-fi disco house of Get Lost to the wavy ambience of Easy Does It. Combining cloudy electronics with collage aesthetic, Mister Mellow induces those late night nostalgia laden fever dreams, listeners caught up in a sea of sampled voices and misty noise pop.
While coming in at just half an hour, each of Mister Mellow’s tracks stands out, instantly memorable. It’s a mish-mash of sound that surprisingly works – cuts like Hard To Say Goodbye and Get Lost revolve around uptempo rhythms and danceable grooves, while moments on I’ve Been Daydreaming My Entire Life and closer Million Miles Away opt for more lowkey, lo-fi aesthetics and dreamy vocal performances. What ties all these pieces together is that perfectly hazy post-chillwave palette and the effortless combination of electronica backdrops and indistinct plunderphonics – it’s these short, sweet, and succinct cuts that capture Washed Out’s musical zeitgeist best, be it Zonked’s unnerving string samples but endlessly funky bass, or Burn Out Blues’ blurry dream-funk.
Mister Mellow is Washed Out doing what they do best – experimenting with sound, taking music in new directions, and breaking down pop’s conventionality while sticking it back together with a few little extras. Those roots in the classic chillwave they pioneered back in the late 2000s are still there, but Washed Out have come a long way and are bound to keep going.