Washed Out, Paracosm | Album Review
Although it’s always a beautiful effort, Paracosm, the sophomore album from Washed Out (Ernest Greene), is a wee bit too chill and mellow at times.
Beautifully conceived music is just that – beautiful. Washed Out (Ernest Greene) does beautiful extraordinarily well on sophomore effort Paracosm. But, there is a but, and not anatomically speaking. Although the production is very well executed throughout Paracosm, sometimes the chillwave, as it has been dubbed, is just too chill. Paracosm makes superb background music, but beyond that, it’s a bit too relaxed and laid back.
“It All Feels Right”
“Entrance” sets the tone, with birds tweeting and mysterious, yet cheerful sounds. The harp runs at the end, segueing to the excellent “It All Feels Right.” “It All Feels Right” marks one of the best balancing acts of chill and noteworthy. Greene’s vocals establish themselves as somewhat nonchalant, yet the vibe works here. Lyrically, it’s pleasant, particularly given how positive Greene seems:
“Call your friends, I’ll call mine / We’ll head out for a long ride / Sun is coming out now / It all feels right.”
“Don’t Give Up” is sound as well, yielding more pleasantries. It’s simplistic, yet effectively conceived. Lyrical simplicity bodes well:
“Even though that we’re far apart we’ve come so close and it feels so right / Don’t give up.”
Ultimately, “Don’t Give Up” is inspirational and feel-good.
“Weightless” is a tad less assertive in moving the listener, despite its overall beauty. It’s not badly paced, but its slowish tendency for relaxation makes it a bit too cool. “All I Know” similarly suffers from this, not to mention that the mellowness lasts longer – five-and-a-half minutes! Sure, the waves Washed Out rides are pretty cool, but more fire and definition would go a-long-ways.
“Great Escape” may not be the second coming, yet there is magic here. The record draws the listener into it. In other words, “Great Escape” is hypnotic. Perhaps it doesn’t supersede earlier gems such as “It All Feels Right” or “Don’t Give Up”, but it’s quite appealing.
Beyond “Great Escape,” Paracosm seems more like a soundscape than something truly thrilling, fresh, and new. “Paracosm” echoes the sentiments of everything else, with its looping synths and focus on radiant sounds. The issue is that it fades into the background rather than dominating the forefront. Penultimate cut “Falling Back” similarly builds up its groove and captivates with vibe without providing more substantial stimulation. “All Over Now” has a bit more oomph, with its straightforwardness and continual optimism. That said, it more intrigued with laying back than truly propelling forward.
Ultimately, Paracosm is an album you want to love, but find yourself enjoying the idea of it more than the album itself. It’s perfect for music for chilling and relaxing – seemingly its purpose. Still, in regards to being an album that stands the test of time, it’s not quite on that level. A little extra assertion might’ve made this effort more appealing. Nonetheless, it’s good and always beautiful, but could use more direction and shape.
Gems: “It All Feels Right,” “Don’t Give Up” & “The Great Escape”
Washed Out • Paracosm • Sub Pop • US Release: 8.13.13
This review was originally published on Brent Music Reviews on August 15, 2013. This version has been edited.