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As promised, M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel have returned to the music scene as She & Him with Volume Two. This release is ostensibly an extension of the first volume. As Ward explains on the group’s website, “We wanted the music to come first, which sort of explains the band name as well as the names of the records. The songs are what we want people to remember. We instinctually landed on this process while making Volume One that Zooey would write and I would produce and arrange. It’s been the most natural extension of our interests and abilities. Using the back and forth between voices and guitars is the main force of the music, and we both have a great love for using harmonies. I think the songs lend themselves to production styles that I love and that she loves. There’s no need to change it now, so the process for Volume Two is exactly the same: Zooey writes, I produce, and we both bring our ideas to the studio.”
That said, there’s not much more growth to this album. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable brand of 60′s pop – one that is fluid without the use of dance beats and autotune. Timely, too, for a spring release as it is filled with tones of warmth and comfort – a reminder of the summer season to come. Deschanel is, of course, charming vocally, and perhaps more emotive than the first time around (as in the lilting lullaby of “If You Can’t Sleep”). Ward happily operates behind the scenes; he is an extensive force of guitars and harmonies.
As with the first album, there are a couple of well-chosen covers which showcase S&H’s brilliance. NRBQ’s “Ridin’ In My Car” appears here, with Ward and Deschanel trading vocals back and forth. Skeeter Davis’ “Gonna Get Along Without You Now,” goes from classic country to muted acoustic seamlessly.
If She & Him continue to make music of this caliber, then it’ll be interesting to see what Volume Three has in store. At this rate, they’ll have a box set before you know it.