Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Album Review: Volume Two By She & Him

My introduction to the indie duo She & Him came through Red, one of the contributors to the pop culture blog Ginger Is the Watchword. Last year she put together an awesome CD mix for me which included the She & Him track "Sweet Darlin'". I was immediately taken by the song's driving beat and throwback sound. When I found out a few months ago that She & Him's next album was due in the spring, I couldn't wait. After listening to Volume Two, I am happy to say that it was worth the wait.

If you are into pop music with a retro feel, this is the album for you! With a combination of playful lead vocals, sweeping harmonies, and sharp musicianship, lead singer/musician Zooey Deschanel and vocalist/musician/producer M. Ward have assembled a collection of gems bound to put or keep you in an “endless summer” mood. I can imagine Barry (Jack Black’s character in “High Fidelity”) including many of these tracks on his “Monday Morning Mix CD” as an antidote to Dick's "sad bastard" music. Hopefully, Barry has upgraded from cassette by now.

Many of the songs on Volume Two have a breezy groove that is hard to resist. Their remake of the NRBQ song “Ridin’In My Car” (which features Deschanel and Ward sharing lead vocals), “I’m Gonna Make It Better”, and “Don’t Look Back” are just a few of the sunshine-filled tunes perfect for cruising with the convertible top or windows down.

With Volume Two, Zooey Deschanel is primed to emerge as one of the top female voices in pop music. Although she may be best known for her roles in films such as Almost Famous, Elf, and Yes Man, Zooey’s work with She & Him doesn’t come off as a vanity project designed to cash in on her Hollywood fame. In addition to providing lead vocals and playing piano, Zooey also wrote 11 of the 13 tracks on Volume Two. The two exceptions are the previously mentioned “Ridin’In My Car” and a tune originally done by Teresa Brewer, “Gonna Get Along Without You Now”.

The album closes with “If You Can’t Sleep”, a song which I can see entering the repertoire of many adults as they try inducing young ones into a golden slumber.

On Volume Two, She & Him have created a blissful world that may not exist, but it doesn't matter to me. To quote Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, “I want to go to there!”

My grade for Volume Two: A

Side note: While looking up Zooey Deschanel's Wikipedia entry, I realized she was the actress who played Jennifer Aniston's cynical co-worker in The Good Girl. The "Fuck you very much" girl has come a long way.

Below is the video to "In the Sun", the first single from Volume Two:


red said...

I still haven't had a chance to listen to the album. This review makes me even more eager to do so!

Penny said...

very cool. I have been excited about this release. Didn't have time yesterday morning to sync my ipod but the album in on my comp.

Jessica said...

Love She & Him! :) Need to pick up this album!

Julia Smith said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'm hungry for new music lately.

Malcolm said...

Red: Because you turned me on to She and Him, I am anticipating hearing what you think of their new album.

Penny: I had been anticipating this release since I heard about it late last year.

Jessica: I hope you do a post on the new She & Him album once you listen to it. :-)

Julia: You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

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