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Album Review
Volume 2

Volume 2
by She & Him


Review Date
10th May 2010
Reviewed by
Brannavan Gnanalingam

When famous actors decide to try and pursue a career in music, it can set-off alarm bells. Part of the reason is that it seems like they’re circumventing the hard slog required to become a good musician, and simply rely on their name to distribute the album. And while there’s no doubt that being a well-known actor doesn’t hurt the marketing ability of Zooey Deschanel’s project, She & Him, she is also helped by the fact that she can write good songs. Although the songs really force the twee-ness to the album’s detriment at points, there are enough musical ideas and catchy melodies to suggest that Deschanel isn’t simply slumming it for some extra street cred.

The opening song ‘Thieves’ gives a perfect indication of Deschanel’s strengths, and sets up the male/female dichotomy implied by the band’s name – as a winning slow-dance melody is complemented by M Ward’s (the “Him” in the title) expert arrangements and production work. In fact, his production work is stellar throughout the album – given that the two initially bonded over a love of Phil Spector, it seems fitting that the album has a feel reminiscent to Spector’s girl group work. Other highlights in the album include ‘Don’t Look Back’, a sweet cover of the Milton Kellem classic ‘Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now’, and ‘I’m Gonna Make It Better’. However, the album is a bit too samey in tone, with many of the lesser tracks merging into one. The twee-ness does jar, and the album could have done with a little bit of bite at points.

Deschanel’s plaintive voice and frothy arrangements have a very similar feel to the indie pop of former Merge label-mates Camera Obscura. However to be fair, Deschanel’s lyrics are much lighter in tone. Volume Two is a very pleasant album, the overall impression is one of an album that’s trying to hug you into submission.

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