Washed Out – “Paracosm”

Beth Yeckley weighs in on Washed Out’s upcoming Sub Pop release – ‘Paracosm’ – and how it’s his most welcoming yet. Out everywhere 8/13

Beth Yeckley

7.5
out of 10

Washed Out
Paracosm
August 13th, 2013
Sub Pop

Where Life Of Leisure was very digital (Tron-like trills in the background, lots of reverb and sampled percussive elements), and Within and Without was more abstract (looping video of waves comes to mind), Paracosm is like a different planet. Since his last release, it’s as if Ernest Greene was in paradise, and now wants all of us to come see it for ourselves.

I’ll admit, I came across Washed Out during Within and Without, only later being able to visit Life of Leisure. So Paracosm, if you give it a listen, is a far cry from the softer, aching electronic tones of songs like “Amor Fati” and “You and I”.

Where I feel like there was a lot of sampling on Life of Leisure, it is difficult to pinpoint and focus on one single instrument in Paracosm (it’s been reported that Greene employed between 40 – 50 different instruments throughout the album). And I think that’s what makes this successful: it is a completely overwhelming experience for the first half of the album. “Entrance” and “It All Feels Right” are a rich, warm introduction; “Don’t Give Up” blends a cacophony of city-like background noises before falling into a more recognizable Greene–clear, soft, and mesmerizing as he repeats “Even though that we’re far apart, We’ve come so close and it feels so right, Don’t give up.” And that’s kind of the moment when it hit me that whatever pain blossomed in Within and Without has become optimism in Paracosm.

“All I Know” feels like the climax of the album, both upbeat and approachable; the instrumentation feels easier to dissect, but that makes it no less interesting. From there, the rest of the album feels a little like a run-on sentence, however, it’s worth noting that “Paracosm” does have a nice just-woke-from-a-dream element to it (harps can do that to you). And “Falling Back” has some nice details (between the claps and the bird chirps) that keep the album tight.

While quite different from his last offerings, Greene makes the change successfully and keeps it all his own.