A year later, Washed Out’s full-length debut, Within and Without You, can be easy to take for granted. The “chillwave” moment Georgia synth-pop singer and songwriter Ernest Greene originally embodied seems to have come and gone, so much so that the latest issue of the New Yorker cheekily refers to Portlandia-soundtracking indie hit “Feel It All Around” as “a nostalgic paean to the heady days of the summer of 2010.” We’re all mermaids now. And yet Within and Without seamlessly transforms the low-key style of Washed Out’s early releases into glossy, expressive, but still dreamy slow jams produced by Gnarls Barkley and Animal Collective zookeeper Ben Allen. It still works beautifully.
On an album that showed how Washed Out’s hazy synth-pop could resonate beyond trendy enclaves, “A Dedication” was a revelation in itself. A softly murmured piano ballad, with still a bit of tape hiss but also whorls of artfully placed synths, the song was stylish only in service of its sentiment: a “paean” (that word again) to Greene’s childhood sweetheart and eventual wife, Blair. It doesn’t sound too far off from fellow chillwave survivor CFCF’s masterful 2012 David Sylvian cover. but with more of an emphasis on feeling over intellectual or self-consciously arty rigor. Fleetwood Mac sang “You Make Loving Fun.” Within and Without makes loving serenely surreal, and rarely more so than on this sumptuous closing track.
The new video for “A Dedication,” directed by Yoonha Park — who previously handled Within and Without‘s “Amor Fati” visuals ૼ perfectly captures Washed Out’s wide-eyed, unhurried romance: diving into a sunlit lake, playing piano with a small cat, sitting in a car as water spatters the windshield, and otherwise showing the rest of uptight indie nation how to stop worrying and enjoy being with people you love.