Although it’s beautiful, Paracosm is a wee bit too mellow…
I really like beautifully conceived music. Washed Out does beautiful extraordinarily well on sophomore effort Paracosm. But you’ve hit the nail on the head if you think I’m going to say ‘BUT’ because I am. Although the production is very well executed on Paracosm, sometimes Ernest Greene’s chillwave as it has been dubbed is just too chill. I could easily sit and listen to Paracosm if I needed great background music, but as I was listening for pleasure and reviewing purposes, I found it ever too relaxed and laid back.
“Entrance” sets the tone, with birds tweeting and mysterious, yet cheerful sounds. The harp runs at the end aid in segueing to the excellent “It All Feels Right”, one of the best balancing acts of chill yet truly noteworthy. Greene’s vocals establishes itself as somewhat nonchalant, yet the vibe works here. Lyrically, “It All Feels Right” is pleasant, particularly given how positive and happy its singer 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” proceeds soundly as well, yielding more pleasantry and simplistic, yet effective conception. 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.”
Inspirational and feel-good, right?
“Weightless” is a tad less assertive in moving the listener, despite its overall beauty. It’s not badly paced, but it slowish, tendency for relaxation makes it a bit too cool. “All I Know” also suffers from this, not to mention that the mellowness lasts even longer at five and half minutes. Sure the waves that Washed Out ride are pretty cool, but a little more fire and definition would go along ways.
“Great Escape” is not the second coming, yet there is a magic about the cut that draws you into it; it’s hypnotic to say the least. It may not supersede say “It All Feels Right” or perhaps even “Don’t Give Up”, but it is quite appealing.
From there, Paracosm seems more like a soundscape than something truly thrilling, fresh, and new. “Paracosm” as a title track itself echoes the sentiments of everything else, with it’s looping synths and focus on radiant sounds. The issue continues to be that “Paracosm” just fades into the background as opposed to dominating the forefront.
Penultimate cut “Falling Back” similarly builds up its groove and captivates with its soundscape, without providing the brain with extra stimulation. Closer “All Over Now” has a bit more oomph, with it’s straightforwardness and continual optimism. That said, it still seems to be more intrigued by laying back than truly propelling forward.
Ultimately, I wanted to love Paracosm, but found myself enjoying the idea of it more than the album itself. It’s perfect for music when I need to chill and relax, but as for an album I’d spin for years to come and truly consider it classic, that would be an understatement. A little extra assertion might’ve made this effort more appealing ultimately. Good and always beautiful, but needs more direction and shape.
Favorites: “It All Feels Right,” “Don’t Give Up” & “The Great Escape”
Washed Out • Paracosm • Sub Pop • US Release: 8.13.13
Photo Credit: Sub Pop
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