Far from being a washed-up heap of incomprehensible sounds, Washed Out’s latest go Paracosm sounds like watching a beautiful flowing river in the heat of the jungle as seen through the eyes of a ’60s flower child.
The title of the second track, “It All Feels Right”, lends itself no better way to describe how one feels when listening to the second studio album from the musical phenomenon Ernest Greene, better known as Washed Out. What could be described as alternative electro-pop, Washed Out steps out beyond the borders of the known and the everyday to create a sound that is truly his own.
With the heat of a tropical sun and the raging, passionate aftermath of the thunderous, dripping rainforest, the album starts off with the peaceful sounds of birds and easy xylophonic rhythms on “Entrance”. Flowing gracefully and effortlessly into the second song (and first single), “It All Feels Right”, the melodic, soothing sounds move to the background as wind chimes and percussion take over.
The heavy use of synthesizers can sometimes weigh down the music and vocal lyricism of a song, but with Paracosm, the electronic sounds only add to the psychedelic emotions that are evoked through listening. Like being flown away on a bed of clouds, the euphoric sounds bring joy, calm, and peace. Yet, despite the quiet tranquility, some songs such as “All I Know” get the foot tapping with more intense bass and drum beats.
What is really enticing about this album is the diversity of suggestive colouring of the songs; there is an aura to the music, if you will. While some songs fall into cooler tones of blues and greens, like “It All Feels Right” and “Weightless”, the album picks up in waves and transitions into the bright warm hues of orange and red with songs like “Don’t Give Up” and “All I Know”. Perhaps the most indicative song of the emotive colours is the title track, which starts off slow and soft and moves into a slightly faster tempo ending on a high note with a smile.
Similarly, “Falling Back” takes the listener on a love-filled rollercoaster of emotions. The whirlwind and wistful romanticism of a fairy tale gets wrapped up in a beautiful, near 6-minute package. Starting with the gentleman eyeing the girl across the room in the sounds of the simple guitar and chimes, the hero soon gets caught up in the love affair and courting of the heroine in the fast-paced flurry of percussion and synthesizer. Not long after, the two protagonists find their way into each other’s arms as the tempo picks up further and invigorating clapping and cheering can be heard from the eager crowd. The story comes to an end, and they live, love, and grow old together as chirping birds and soft piano sounds lead us out.
Unable to be completely defined by one thing, Washed Out’s Paracosm is a bright shining light far away that draws nearer as the gaps in the genres collide. Paracosm isn’t an album likely to get lost in the paradoxical cosmos that is the music universe anytime soon, and is a must-listen for anyone looking to get swept away by a synthesized musical love affair.