Sound — 7
Swiftly recovering from a rather mild debut (2011's "Within and Without"), chillwave/dream pop musician Ernest Greene is back with Washed Out's sophomore effort, "Paracosm." Though this time around living down its name, Washed Out does dry up rather quickly: initially a sonic merry-go-round in the opening moments, "Paracosm" quickly drops into cruise control from about the third track in. The title track, an instrumental piece recalling moments in the opening and "It All Feels Right," does throw a bone to anyone with faith in Greene after "W&W," but it's hard to sit through a good twenty minutes of essentially the same style in the middle. "Falling Back" is a bit more ambient and engaging, but "All Over Now"'s wrap-up feels a bit too airtight. "Paracosm" has a firm grasp on chill and is far from a sophomore slump, but it does take a considerable number of safe routes on its journey.
Lyrics — 6
Most of the album's lyrical work is fragmented and vague, with "It All Feels Right" opening with "Leaving heading eastbound/Weekend's almost here now" and going on to say "We'll be gone for a few nights/Meet up with the old crowd/Music's playing so loud." Interestingly, Greene's voice is also pretty unremarkable; it fits, but with some of the redundancies in composition, some kind of outrage or experimentation would certainly have been a relief. What Greene brings to the table is essentially a quiet baritone and some noncommittal lyrics. What can one say? The guy was going to be a librarian.
Overall Impression — 7
One thing Greene does not seem to realize here is that a genre's "wave" status does not indicate easy composition or absolute freedom in just how long he can draw the same song out on repeat. If anything, a good x-wave record requires more subtleties than many others might. Sure, a few of the individual cuts are well done ("It All Feels Right," "Falling Back"), but one of the things that made "Within and Without" feel like such a... well... wash-out was the lack of variety. Here, he at least has almost transparent clairvoyance on what he wants, but there's not much exciting about the vision itself.