Friday, May 03, 2013

She & Him: "Volume 3" (album review)

After two full length albums and a Christmas record, it's become pretty clear to everyone that She & Him are not a novelty act or a vanity project for Zooey Deschanel.  No, her pairing with M. Ward is a legitimate musical combination.  The duo release their third installment, cleverly titled Volume 3, on May 7th.

This time around, the pair give us a bigger, fuller sound.  It's much more rounded out.  There is still a delicate, cutesy quality to the songs, but their are far less precious than they have tended to be in the past (for instance, the adorable "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me")..

A swirling flourish makes "Never Wanted Your Love" a greatly textured track.  Horns add a bit of a punch to the breezy groove of "Together".  The record's standout, "Somebody Sweet To Talk To", is a catchy tune with a wafting '70s singer/songwriter vibe to it.

The album kicks-off with "I've Got Your Number, Son", one of the perkiest and most up-tempo cuts in the She & Him catalogue.  Ward also makes far fewer vocal contributions this time out, appearing in a meaningful manner on only "Baby".

The single "I Could've Been Your Girl" demonstrates the duality of She & Him's music.  The delivery is peppy and sunny, but the lyrics show a stinging bite.  The track is revisited in an elegant orchestral way for the closer "Reprise (I Could've Been Your Girl)".

Deschanel and Ward do whiff on a couple of occasions.  Tracks like "London" and "Turn To White" are too minimalist to hold your interest in light of the weakness of the songwriting.  "Something's Haunting You" is a typical She & Him number, which in the context of the beefier sound of Volume 3, is a touch disappointing.

Every She & Him record includes a cover, and this one is no exception. Here it's a fairly faithful version of Blondie's "Sunday Girl".  The similarities between Deschanel's vocals and Debbie Harry's are striking.

She & Him play the Toronto Urban Roots Festival at Fort York on July 4th.

Best tracks: "Somebody Sweet To Talk To", "Together"

Track listing for Volume 3:
  • I've Got Your Number, Son
  • Never Wanted Your Love
  • Baby
  • I Could've Been Your Girl
  • Turn To White
  • Somebody Sweet To Talk To
  • Something's Haunting You
  • Together
  • Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me
  • Snow Queen
  • Sunday Girl
  • London
  • Shadow Of Love
  • Reprise (I Could've Been Your Girl)

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