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Album Review
Life Of Leisure

Life Of Leisure
by Washed Out

Mexican Summer

Review Date
Reviewed by
Lukas Clark-Memler

You have to give it to Washed Out for trying damn hard to create a new sound that is not confined to any past era. The one-man-project of multi-instrumentalist Ernest Greene, he creates music in his parent’s house in rural South Carolina. He shuns corporate record moguls, and instead distributes limited numbers of cassettes to only his closest relations. He also shies away from media attention, and yet Washed Out has been raved over by critics and listeners alike.

Greene seems to enjoy the allure of exclusivity and finds comfort in his lavish dream worlds, which could explain his latest creation, Life Of Leisure, a record that resembles a woozy Technicolor frolic through a field of opiates. Life Of Leisure plays like a sleepless night, where perception is enhanced and reality is altered. Many have come up with their own tags to describe this kind of music, which all are slightly imperfect phrases for describing a style that is generally one of the following: lackadaisical, hypnotic, cassette-recorded, affable yet not encouraging, pleasantly apathetic, sun-baked, slightly out of focus and… Washed Out.

Yet as far as labelling goes, perhaps the aforementioned do not do Life of Leisure justice. A solid piece of sonic architecture, the record assembles an array of sounds and textures and in the process creates a listening environment that is truly magnificent. Vocally, Greene seduces us with enigmatically opaque lyrics, a breathless urgency and crystalline arpeggios. His languid singing floats weightlessly above the ebb and flow of the melody below. He seems to attack the recording process with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence. Some instruments are recorded live, whereas others are simply loops downloaded from the Internet. Occasionally you can hear a snippet of conversation, or footsteps, or birdsong, and it makes you wonder whether the effect is the result of an overlooked recording device, or a precisely planned vision.

Washed Out’s music does not strive to enhance or better your life, but to help you simply appreciate the now. Greene explores various genres and in doing so crafts his own entirely. Life Of Leisure could perhaps be described as the encapsulation of relaxation and happiness; or better yet, the rejection of anxiety and fear. No, it won’t change your life, but it will give you a 20-minute break from the harsh realities of Western life. And in a place where time is money, isn’t that worth something?

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