Sunlight pours from Washed Out’s blooming ‘Paracosm’

Eli Jace August 20, 2013 7

PrintThe music of Ernest Greene, or, Washed Out, comes at you in waves. The new album, Paracosm, eases the listener slowly into an aviary. The sounds of birds minding their business on a summer afternoon is the last thing heard before going under.

On his second album, released Aug. 13 on Subpop, Greene crafts pretty pop jangles from the silk of sunlight. In his world the colors are always bright. The mood is revelatory and triumphant. Songs are heavily layered with a sprawling drone and background snippets of field recordings and party scenes, plus more birds. Each progression dissolves into the next, leaving the listener light-headed and feeling a little nostalgic.

The sound taps into everything dreamy about The Flaming Lips, but with a finer calibration. Paracosm consists of nine very well-fed songs.

“Great Escape” is a funky Beach Boys jam sent frolicking in a field of daisies. The guitar twang on “Paracosm” unspools like the fishing wire from a fishing rod, while the prettiest harp loop flutters perpetually. “Don’t Give Up” sounds like something the Avalanches would play behind all their samples. “All Over Now” and “Falling Back” could fit onto any soundtrack for any John Hughes movie.

On each track the drums plod along and they sound like sand is splashing off the drum heads. The guitars rise and fall on a continuous loop. Greene’s voice is soft and pale and mostly forgettable, camouflaged in the mix.

The songs themselves don’t sound much different than anything else that’s been popular in music. They sound like they could fit into any time period since the Sixties. What bring these ditties their uniqueness is the incredible tidal wave of drone that heightens their emotional core.

The traveling undertones are subtle, but all-encompassing, circling Greene’s simple songs like an earth orbits its sun.

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