She & Him: Volume Two

Music  |  Reviews
Text
She & Him: <em> Volume Two</em>

Twice as nice
By Matt Fink

She & Him’s debut was a simple affair. Zooey Deschanel’s homespun grace and M. Ward’s unobtrusive production made for a winning combination—which means they risked a lot by making a followup album as complex and ambitious as this one. On Volume Two, swirling strings and lush backing vocals underscore Deschanel’s increasingly sophisticated songwriting. She plays the dewy-eyed ingénue a bit too faithfully at times, but there is no denying her legitimacy as a tunesmith, divvying her set between bouncy piano-pop, folk-flavored sing-alongs and orchestral anthems. In lesser hands, the American Graffiti-styled themes of star-crossed lovers and summer nights would drown in their own sincerity. Here, they provide a pleasant escape to a mythical America of endless horizons and youthful resilience—not such a bad place to be in 2010.

Need some spice
By Rachel Dovey

With its nostalgic covers, wall-of-sound harmonies and sunny imagery, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward’s latest is a beguiling memory-picnic through a land where everyone is forgiving, self-deprecating and pleasant. “Well, alright / It’s okay / We all get the slips sometimes every day / I’ll just keep it to myself in the sun,” Deschanel and her guest chorus of Tilly and the Wall members croon to a melodic waterfall of riffs. This stuff-it-away-and-smile attitude permeates the bulk of the album, so when Deschanel’s voice dips to a quiet near-sob at the end of Skeeter Davis cover “Gonna Get Along Without You Now” it’s as refreshing as a drink of water after a cotton-candy binge. But moments like this are few and far between on this fluffy, sugar-spun album. The smiling-through-tears undercurrent of ‘60s pop is lost in Deschanel’s taffy-like vocals, and though the album evokes memories of a more pleasant time, they seem far too sweet to be real.

Sign up for the Paste newsletter Get our daily summary of the day's top articles and new items. Sign Up Thank you! Your email address has been added to our list. You will begin receiving our newsletter within 48 hours.

Paste Magazine example 1 Paste Magazine example 2 Paste Magazine example 3