Let’s get straight to it. Washed Out is two animals and an explosive, metaphorically, of course, since animals should not play with explosives. Washed Out is Caribou and sounds like Panda Bear crossed with M83.That’s it. That’s all you need to know. There are other metaphors, other descriptions, other sounds, but really, so what! I care, but, if you have a thing you need to get, you better not dilly-dally …
First, the Caribou. Like, Caribou with Daniel Smith, Washed Out is a single person producing mostly electronically. One is Canadian and one is not. Guess which?
Second, Washed Out has a king of hazy, indistinct sound, like Panda Bear. Real analog instruments and sound effects take individual sonic pieces and create a kind of pureed sound like Noah Lennox’s Panda Bear project. Unlike Panda Bear, Washed Out has been given the chillwave moniker which, if I’d known that in advance, would have turned me off right away.
Third, Washed Out has a kind of twinkly, mid-to-high register sound, like M83, that comes across as mildly happy/curious/alive and somewhat fantastical even when the subject matter gets sad. Despite being named after an explosive, M83, is not explosive. Neither is Washed Out. Both stand out from the background, but neither is prepared to punch you in the face.
All three compared artists are the visionaries between named solo projects or bands, just as Washed Out is really Ernest Greene. So, two animals and an explosive.
Washed Out came at me in a perfectly bad moment where I was just driving around hoping to run away from the darkness inside me. I listened, at first, thinking, “Eh, it’s OK. Whatever.” Moments later, I saw the sky and the pretty colors of the clouds. Soon after, before even a full song had passed, I was just hearing the beauty in Paracosm‘s opening track, “Entrance” which, really, is like the soundtrack to a tropical zoo exhibit. As that fades into “It All Feels Right”, the easy going optimism and and understated bounciness had me hooked. Now, as I listen to “Don’t Give Up”, I feel a little sadness as the background party noises tell of people easily having a happy time. But that’s just me. In reality, the song fits into that sleepy time on the beach when the party is just winding down. The singer, somehow perennially fresh, sings as if reminiscing about the past hours. By “All I Know”, you’ll hear the best sounds of the Moody Blues “In Your Wildest Dreams”, but more relaxed and twinkly, maybe more of an upbeat version of the Church’s “Under the Milky Way”. I soar, listening to this track, not dangerously, just gently and comfortably. This is the point where beauty planted itself in my troubled mind. Greene gets his real chillwave hip hop going on “Great Escape” which is forgettable enough that I’m not even sure what’s up with it — not bad, just not memorable. There’s more. The album continues to an ordinary length, adding in pianos, twinkly harp sounds, swelling cymbal, and so on, marking itself as the kind of rock music that a New Age fan could appreciate it (ouch, that hurt to write). After peaking at “All I Know”, the album proceeds to wind things back to a more contemplative lower-key tone, like title track “Paracosm” which could, in fact, be the music from “True Blood” performed in the haze of heroin, a drug I only know how to spell. Would the album fade out responsibly without a tear jerker like “Falling Back”? It would not. I have no idea what he’s singing (like Panda Bear, again), but this is a hazy song feeling of lost love, closing the door on a happy period in life.
On another day, in a another part of life, I’d go right passed this album without missing anything, without even feeling embarrassed. But, this album came at me at the right time and with the right sound, so, in return, I’ll treat it well. Buy it if you’re feeling crappy, and are on the way home from QDoba with your life falling apart. I’m sure it’s good for other life events, but I couldn’t handle the product testing. So, don’t buy it, if you don’t want to, but don’t tell me, I’m already a loyal fan.