Album Review

Rachel Mooney

This album is ripe with purity and subtle grace and despite this not being the most texture-rich album, if you were a fan of Volume 1, Volume 2 will be your summer favorite.

She & Him’s latest album, Volume Two, is the mid tempo-ed musical equivalent of a cupcake: sweet as sugar and equally hard to resist. The music is definitely an ode to another era, a pure throwback to another time, Zooey Deschanel’s voice is simple and sweet and fully equipped with vivid memories of my grandmother’s AM radio. Deschanel has a vintage throaty voice full of whimsy and a sound that is understatedly sunny and bright.

It would be an understatement to say this sound has been done before, as you can practically guess where Deschanel is going vocally before she opens her mouth, but this ode to the 50s and 60s is refreshing nonetheless. Volume Two is literally almost an extension of Volume One, but honestly, did anyone expect something different? This album is essentially a back to the basics, so to speak, and with this in mind the music is fantastically unabashed and unpretentious. You won’t find synth machines or any reverb on Zooey’s voice yet the music is still clever and insightful. Deschanel never over sings, her voice raw and untouched on most of the album and while this fact may bore some to tears, this by the same token is what makes the music so quaint it its own right.

‘Thieves’ opens up and immediately I think of ‘The End of the World’ by Skeeter Davis. Most of the songs on this album, including the opening track, have this almost band stand feel and Zooey’s effortless voice, on this track especially, is scarily reminiscent of country star Loretta Lynn. The beats to this song and many others also teeter on the verge of country and although the lyrics are simple, they are by no means vapid. She & Him is an ongoing story of Man and Woman in the simple, leave it to beaver way- an ode to what once was in the form of musical nostalgia. Keys take the front stage on ‘In the Sun,’ an indie-esque toe tapper, and ‘Brand New Shoes,’ has this same bouncy triplet melody. The male counterpoint in She & Him, M. Ward, has an equally unpretentious voice which is heard minimally on the album for what seems to be aesthetic purposes only. Despite this, his voice is light with nice control and compliments Zooey’s crisp voice wonderfully as they banter back and forth playfully; who said romance is dead? ‘Gonna Get Along Without You Now,’ is also a personal favorite, telling the story of lost love in such an upbeat way that you barely realize what’s being said. The closing track, ‘If You Can’t Sleep’ is a dreamy, harmonic lullaby which counters the entire album but closes it beautifully.

This album is ripe with purity and subtle grace and despite this not being the most texture-rich album, if you were a fan of Volume 1, Volume 2 will be your summer favorite. She & Him fits like a vintage pair of jeans; their comfort and understated uniqueness go unparalleled in our time. Just try to resist Zooey’s sweet-as-sugar charm.

83/100