Release Date 08/07/2020
(Sub Pop) AAA
Can a piece of music conjure images of a beautiful landscape? Can it transport a listener to another place and time? That’s what Washed Out attempts to do again with his newest world-building experiment - Purple Noon. While his 2017 visual album Mister Mellow was often raw and tongue-in-cheek, Purple Noon is much more of a sensual fantasy. The tempos are notably slower, the tone is deep and sultry - and there is a new sense of romanticism that lends the album a strong seductive quality. Upon entering the world of Purple Noon, the listener is quickly transported to a paradise a world away - one marked by warm nights in exotic locations.
Inspired by his travels around the Mediterranean coastline, Ernest Greene uses the region’s distinct island culture - with all of its rugged elegance and old-world charm - as a backdrop to tell Purple Noon’s stories of passion, love, and loss. Much like the scale and scope of great Hollywood romantic epics (its no surprise that Purple Noon’s title comes from the 1960 romantic film of the same name) the album is full of bombast and melodrama. While there are moments of dazed tranquility one might expect from a Washed Out album - there are also sections that fall deeply into melancholy or sadness. The album’s major subject matter is love - and the listener is taken on a journey through the various twists and turns that can often accompany these “matters of the heart.” We start at a serendipitous first meeting in “Too Late”, move to a passionate love affair in “Paralyzed”, all the way through the disintegration of a relationship in “Time to Walk Away” and back again. Washed Out albums have always been rooted in escapism but coupled with this new layer of emotional intensity - the seductive pull of Purple Noon becomes even more powerful and enticing.
Production of the album followed a brief stint of writing for other artists (most notably with Sudan Archives on her debut Athena) in which Greene was able to explore genres like R&B and Modern Pop for the first time. Many of these brighter, more robust sounds made their way into the songs of Purple Noon and mark a new chapter in Greene’s growth as a producer. The vocals here are more present, the beats are more full and there is a wider depth of dynamics that has yet to be heard on a Washed Out record. At any moment one could hear the luxurious sensuality of Sade, the sonic bombast of Phil Collins, or the lush atmosphere of the great Balearic beat classics. Greene again writes, records and produces the entire album with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen. Purple Noon is also a return for Washed Out to the perennial indie label Sub Pop who released his first two full-length albums.