Record Review: She & Him, 'Volume Two'

Record Review: She & Him, 'Volume Two'

The Hype: Considering how gentle their music is, it funny--yet fitting--how loudly critics praise the tag team of She & Him, better known as Zooey Deschanel and Matt Ward (that's M. Ward to you). Any skepticism about a bubbly indie actress colliding with Portland's prolific folk pioneer was soundly squashed after the release of their debut album, Volume One, in March 2008. On the heels of their lauded sophomore follow-up--Volume Two (of course), released yesterday on Merge Records/Double Six (Domino)---She & Him embark on a string sold-out shows including the Glass House on April 15 (sorry, latecomers). Then it's on to a blistering set at Coachella the very next day.

The Judgment:

 Old-fashioned modesty and melody bubble throughout

Volume Two

. And while that's not much of a surprise, considering what their debut sounded like, you never really get sick of all the sunshine--proving the potency of the duo's craft. Cutesy, Beach-Boys-indebted melodies splash over waves of dreamy guitar and '60s pop sensibility. Showcasing M. Ward's knack for warm sonic arrangements, "Thieves" opens the album with orchestral textures and the deliberate feel of a Sam Cooke song. As Deschanel's soulful chirp wanders into the track, the album's casual allure starts to take hold.

With respect to the doo-wop and folk ancestries that inform their work, She & Him crank out some bright cover songs, including their drum-driven rendition of NRBQ's "Ridin' In My Car." Late in the album, Deschanel's vocals are utterly disarming on the Skeeter Davis cover, "Gonna Get Along Without You." And you have to wonder if songs like "In The Sun" and "Don't Look Back" had them planning this album for a spring release long before the first track was even recorded. Ultimately, Volume Two is an album fit for the sunny season ahead.

Download These: "In the Sun," "Riding in My Car," "Sing."

Grade: B+


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