Boredom. Laziness. Complete apathy. Is it a quarter-life crisis or just an excuse to never grow up?
This is the world of Washed Out’s (Ernest Greene) new album Mister Mellow. A fully immersive multimedia experience, the album guides the listener through the highs and lows of this often ridiculous struggle. In classic Millennial fashion, most young adults’ perception of their own lives are overblown and over-dramatized to the point of absurdity – as are the many ways they distract themselves from the insecurities faced on a daily basis (see social media, fantasy, drugs, music). Mister Mellow shines a light on the humor found in this paradox – how we can be so bored and unhappy in what is often a very privileged, contented life?
Further moving away from the synthesizer-driven sounds of his early work and the more band-driven sound of his work on iconic indie label Sub Pop, it is fitting that Greene has partnered with the rebellious beat-driven label Stones Throw as he continues to carve out a unique sonic identity that stands in direct opposition to most current trends. Instead, Mister Mellow was influenced by classic plunderphonics records of the past as well as the experimental collage techniques of musique concrete. Styles as diverse as free jazz, house, hip-hop and psych are combined together with interludial voiceover samples (often pulled from anonymous Youtube vlogs) to create a busy, chaotic, and caricaturish mix; one that quickly starts to feel like a mirror of the claustrophobic, hyper-stimulated psyche of most young adults.
Released as an integral companion to Mister Mellow is a full length visual counterpart that utilizes almost every form of animation (collage, claymation, hand-drawn, stop-motion). The aesthetic of each video reflects the handmade, “paint outside the lines” style of Greene’s music – and again is a reaction against the sterile, hyper-realistic renderings of most modern digital-based art. The rich, detailed patchwork that makes up Mister Mellow (and its visual accompaniment) is unique in this day of quick-fix, throwaway music-culture.
Conceived over the course of 2 years, it is intensely personal (Greene’s only collaborator was mix engineer Cole MGN) – but the ideas and observations found within the album speak to a much larger shared experience that is affecting an entire generation of young adults. An experience that we come to see as both funny and sad.