She & Him make a cheery, solid sophomore album with Volume Two

When She & Him was first announced, the duo of singer-songwriter M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel faced almost immediately positive buzz. The adorably indie actress and the well-respected indie musician seemed an exciting and almost unbeatable team. But their debut release, Volume One, failed to meet expectations and, with the exception of the single “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here,” disappeared into the bin of mediocre side projects. Resilient, She & Him have returned with Volume Two, looking to prove critics wrong by making an album that lives up to all the hype.

Well it looks like they took notes from their first attempt. Scrapping many of the slower and boring songs, She & Him have focused on what worked before (pretty much just “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here”) and have built something new and better on top of it. Volume Two‘s first two tracks, “Thieves” and “In The Sun” immediately tell you that what you’re listening to is an improvement. Their placement almost screams “We have at least two great singles this time!!” They also set the new mood for the album, and it’s one that is much brighter and cheerier than their old droopy folk songs. It actually sounds like they left the woods and wrote the songs sitting on a beach.

The upbeat arrangements and soft harmonies channel the likes of The Mamas and the Papas or the Beach Boys but still remain in the simple pop/folk structures that the duo is known for. Non-guitar instruments are used freely and playfully, giving the album more of a friendly group-effort feel, like a bunch of super-talented friends jamming around a bonfire. As usual, Deschanel’s voice is a standout. Soft, innocent and yet so mature, she guides us by the hand through the ins and outs of love and life. She’s like your friend that has all the best advice, but is still trying to figure it out herself.

Ultimately, She & Him have made a much better album. It’s a very good, but not incredible work that probably won’t make it to any year-end lists, but it’s an album you can listen to again and again without getting bored to tears. Almost every song is catchy enough in it’s own regard that the tracks flow easily. At very least, it’s my new favorite spring/summer/beach music. It also gives me just another reason to want to marry Zooey Deschanel. Seriously, I’m great! Call me sometime!

She & Him – “Thieves” [MP3]

She & Him – “In The Sun” [MP3]

She & Him – “Gonna Get Along Without You Now (Skeeter Davis cover)” [MP3]

Buy Volume Two

1 comment to She & Him make a cheery, solid sophomore album with Volume Two

  • BRQ

    Volume 2 definitely is an improvement over Volume 1, however I still agree that there’s that certain something lacking. That certain punch that Zooey needs to kick the whole project into overdrive.

    All in all, she could’ve gone either way with a pop/crooning career and I’m happy she chose M Ward as an accomplice. The album is great background fodder for the summer but won’t make my year-end list.