Both Sides of the Coin – Washed Out's Paracosm Heads

The good news is we can hold out on the “washed up” puns for a little longer. They’ll hit the Internet someday, but not because of Paracosm.

The band’s blissfully summer-struck sophomore album pops with all the sonic sugar of an Edible Arrangement. Even if its full of the familiar stock that pins it to the rest of the “Drive”-influenced synth crowd, it uses the conventions artfully.

My opinion of this album is in a large part helped by the fact that “It All Feels Right” can stand shoulder to shoulder with “Feel It All Around.” It has the same candy-burst energy, and a rhythm that tumbles like a rolling coconut before it’s Gallaghered into a blossom of booming party favors.

asitecalledfred.comFirst full track aside, the album is just as tactile as its predecessor, 2011’s Within and Without, and every bit the entrancing travel ad translated into music. Project founder Ernest Greene keeps the lyrics on point – missing no opportunity to drop the word “feel” into his songs like a wayward plop of marzipan. Here, though, they’re more conquering more Marshmallow Men than ill-fated Starship Troopers.

Most of the songs are interesting soundscapes you can wade deeper into if you want to, but you wouldn’t be wrong to call it “inoffensive, chill music.”

That said, on the whole, Paracosm is a strong breeze from a band that risked overheating from the exposure. The sonic palette feels deeper, as if this time the band is rendering smaller details – the cross-shading on imaginary palm trunks, the uneven color of a molly-soggy ocean.

Sure, Greene is stuck on the sand, but the album is proof he’s improving his short game.


“What are you going to do for a follow-up, Ernie?” a studio producer says, crunching the last ice from an expensive highball. “You got a hit single, a TV show theme song, hipsters and ’80s moms love you…”

Ernie and the studio producer sit in a resort restaurant garden, surrounded by palms, ceilinged by stars. A cockatu flutters by.

“You know this ice was shipped from Russia?” The producer asks, smoothing down his tiki-plastered Hawaiian shirt.

“Um… No… I’m not sure. I guess, people seem to still like synths… and they aren’t really able to tell the difference when the genre is bad. So, I was thinking like same old shit?”“Not a bad idea Ernie, but I got another one. You ever hear of heirloom tomatoes?” The producer eyes his product intently, joins his hands in thought at the fingers.

Ernie pauses. “No, I assume they’re just like regular tomatoes?”

“Wrong, my boy. They’re practically the same. You see what I’m saying?”

Ernie nods this head.

“Practically, like the same, but not quite.”

“Right… Not sure I follow?”

“Ah that’s fine, just add a bunch of island sounds to whatever you have, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Verdict: Heads

Pete Rizzo can be reached at

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