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Washed Out “Paracosm” – Album Review

Named after the term for a detailed imaginary universe, a la Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Georgia-based producer Washed Out’s second album, Paracosm, has been designed with the purpose of transporting the listener to another place for 45 minutes.

Following the birdsong that dominates opening instrumental “Entrance” and the summer party chatter that can be heard throughout several of its nine tracks, Ernest Greene’s follow-up to 2011’s Within & Without is more likely to conjure up images of a park full of hipsters than the land of hobbits, warriors and wizards.

But this simple idea of a naturalistic and idyllic fantasy world is in keeping with the warmer and more organic sound Washed Out has chosen to pursue the second time around. There’s still plenty of the dreamy synths that made him one of the chillwave scene’s leading players, most notably on the gorgeously echo-laden “Weightless” and closer “All Over Now,” a muted take on the epic 80s pop that became synonymous with the climaxes to John Hughes’ films. But they’re also joined here by an array of over 50 different instruments, all performed by Greene himself, making Paracosm a much more exuberant and less introspective listen than its predecessor.

Indeed, the sublime blend of woozy electro and shoegazing indie-rock on “Great Escape” and the equally warped psychedelic pop of “Falling Back” both recall producer Ben Allen’s work with Animal Collective and Deerhunter. Elsewhere, Flaming Lips fans alienated by the band’s recent foray into claustrophobic noise-rock could do worse than check out lead single “It All Feels Right,” a deliciously hazy blend of cascading harps, shimmering percussion and heavenly harmonies which channels Wayne Coyne and co. at their late 90s melodic peak.

Avoiding the pitfalls of most electro artists’ forays into acoustic territory, Paracosm is an enchanting and immersive sophomore which should fulfill Washed Out’s escapist intentions.

4 / 5 stars     

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About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music


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