She & Him seemed like a mismatched pair from the start.
M. Ward’s nocturnal musings cohabitating with the chirpy designs of actress – actress – Zooey Deschanel suggested an
unlikely prospect on paper, which certainly didn’t bode well for what might
transpire once the collaboration was put into practice. Regardless, the duo’s
Merge Records debut, aptly titled Volume
One, was the dark horse hit of 2008, a frequent contender on many a
critic’s top picks for the year.
All of which provides a nice set-up for the sequel,
appropriately named Volume Two. It’s
doubtful that Ward would ever give himself so willingly to such a perky pretext
were it not for an obvious musical infatuation with Deschanel, who freely
appropriates the opportunity to showcase her pure pop leanings. The results are
as impressive as before, a collection that skillfully negotiates that difficult
divide between commercial compatibility and alternative intentions. Deschanel’s vocals are lighter than helium,
an ideal complement to her cushy melodies and Ward’s Spector-esque
arrangements. “Ridin’ In My Car” offers
a fluffy soundtrack for summer romance, while the samba-like pulse of
“Lingering Still” makes it innocuous enough for pure blithe delight. Likewise,
the giddy shuffle of “Me and You” and the catchy call and response chorus of
“In The Sun” make them ebullient and engaging — featherweight songs conveying
guiltless satisfaction. She & Him may seem one odd couple, but they make
for one creative and compatible twosome.
Standout Tracks: “In the Sun,” “Lingering Still,” “”I’m Gonna
Make It Better” LEE ZIMMERMAN