The first rumors about the collaboration between Zooey Deschanel and M.Ward were greeted with a hesitance which, let’s face it, was justified by the poor track record for actors-turned-musicians. But Volume One, released in March 2008, was an impressive and convincing debut that received a warm welcome from even the sternest of skeptics. The pair’s second album, Volume Two, released this past March, proved to be equally impressive, with a more confident take on the sunny, retro-pop sound that makes She & Him so very irresistible.
Volume Two is playful and bright. It’s the kind of album you keep in your car but never tire of, the kind of music that plays up those beautiful summer days just as well as it dresses up the grayer ones. The lyrics are those of one disappointed but never beaten down, and always sung with the hint of a smile. Deschanel is, after all, determined to “make it better,” as she sings on the album’s ninth track. This upbeat outlook is part of what makes Volume Two an instant mood-lifter, and as such, a musical delight.
The other major strength of this sophomore album is its timelessness. She & Him have a firm appreciation for history, and their music is all the better for it. The record is full of throwbacks to older times, from the Bee Gees-inspired beat of “In The Sun” to the Orpheus-inspired lyrics of “Don’t Look Back.” But for all their historical consciousness, the pair never lose themselves; each song is distinctly their own – even the covers. They’ve struck the perfect balance between old and new, crafting a sound that feels homey and familiar, all the while remaining intriguing and quirky.
In short, I’ve pushed Volume Two to the center of my summer playlist – and strongly suggest you do the same!
Melany's grade: A