Words About Music
Washed Out “Paracosm”
In 2009, 2010, and 2011, a new wave of alternative rock was hitting the Internet and becoming one of the biggest sub-genres in recent memory. And then, in what seems like the blink of an eye, it went away. That sub-genre is known as “chillwave,” which is characterized as a cross between psych pop, shoegaze, and electronica. It was pioneered by acts such as Neon Indian, Toro y Moi, and Washed Out. Neon Indian received significant praise for their three albums (they’ve yet to follow up 2011’s Era Extraña with a fourth album) and Toro y Moi got praise for his first two albums, but not his third one which came out earlier this year. Neon Indian’s disappearance and Toro y Moi’s disappointing follow-up to a praised album were two bad signs that the end of chillwave as we knew it was nigh. Fortunately, Washed Out, the solo project by musician Ernest Greene, is back and better than ever with his second album “Paracosm.”
Washed Out is most commonly known for his breakout hit “Feel It All Around,” which ended up as the theme song for hit TV show Portlandia. The success of his debut EPs and coverage from magazines like Pitchfork got him a deal with Sub Pop, and for very good reason. His 2011 debut “Within and Without” got some pretty good reviews upon its release, but in my opinion, his brand new album “Paracosm” is quite a bit better.
While “Paracosm” may end up lacking the hit that was “Feel It All Around,” it is extremely cohesive and layered in some gorgeous synths and strings. I had pretty low expectations for it after coming to the conclusion that chillwave was almost dead, but it definitely exceeded my expectations by being just a fun album to listen to. While I wouldn’t exactly call every single idea on “Paracosm” an original idea, all the songs are still executed brilliantly, and this feels more like a full-length album that you could listen to front to back than “Within and Without” did. Maybe the lack of a hit makes “Paracosm” that much more worth it.
The album sometimes feels like one long indie electronica track, but not in the way that makes it boring. “Paracosm” is actually anything but boring. It at least gives me reason to believe that chillwave has a fighting chance of making it in this crazy world. And it’s definitely far better than vaporwave. “Paracosm” may not be my favorite album of the year, but its callbacks to Panda Bear and My Bloody Valentine make it a very worthwhile release, and probably one of the best that this small movement has ever produced, which is exciting considering most would say that chillwave is way past its heyday in the music world. And who knows? Maybe Neon Indian will come back and blow us all away.
SCORE – 8.0
FAVORITE TRACKS – It All Feels Right, All I Know, The Great Escape, Paracosm, Falling Back