Review of Washed Out’s “Mister Mellow”

Often regarded as one of the leaders of the Chillwave genre, Washed Out’s (Ernest Greene) latest album Mister Mellow is a puzzling blend of cacophonous, slow-mo samples and meandering musical lines. It is immediately clear that Mister Mellow explores new musical territory as the album opens with a 30 second song composed of a simple repeating synth line and violent coughing. The second song, Burn Out Blues also opens with a puzzling array of samples but develops into quite a strong effort. Unfortunately, this proves to be the high point of the album; while there are some memorable moments dispersed throughout this album there are far too many head scratching moments.
One perfect example is the opening part of the fourth track Floating By. After yet another droned, slow-mo sample, a lively samba-esque theme breathes fresh life into an otherwise dull intro. Greene builds the tension with a seeming crescendo that should ignite an exciting passage. However, the tension gives way to a slow and understated, trademark Greene vocal verse. Tempting jazzy chords eventually fill in the background but the initial excitement of samba-esque beat is never utilized. Sadly, this sums up the album well; there are moments of potential excitement, but all too often the songs meander into forgettable passages. This album appears to be an effort to stretch into new genres and certainly does push the boundaries of what we have come to expect from Washed Out. All credit to Greene for attempting to expand his creative repertoire, but this album fails to really find its footing. After two previous stellar albums from Washed Out, Mister Mellow can only be described as a disappointment.

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