She & Him
May 08, 2013 Web Exclusive
Volume 3 marks yet another nostalgic pop installment from indie magnates M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel. Unlike many acts that struggle to evolve and delve deeper into their craft, She & Him remains remarkably unchanged—a stalwart of catchy, light-hearted, and airy love songs. Deschanel's youthfully innocent vocals channel singers of earlier eras (e.g. Nancy Sinatra, Peggy Lee), and M. Ward continues to earn his place as a craftsman of the sentimental.
Underneath these simple melodies with simple changes are layered supporting vocals, string arrangements, and even some brass. Plentiful reverb warms over everything, especially the vocals, which take on a room of their own as a result. "Snow Queen" practically puts Deschanel in a concert hall.
Each song is its own compact package, unaffected in tone by its neighbors or album mates. As a result, the album hits neither zenith nor nadir but rather indulges in itself. And at 14 tracks in 43 minutes, it does so in short, unrelenting doses as it tapers out.
All this to say that while enjoyable from song to song, the experience of the entire album is tiring. Thus the problem that arises with a band that rises above the tides of change—it fails to surprise. Perhaps more aptly put, it fails to spark.
The lyrics are sweet but largely forgettable. The vocals are quirky but without impact. The instrumentals and spectrum of sound are the standouts here. Classic pop string and brass arrangements and able bass and guitar work make a gem out of the relatively basic "Together."
There is something entirely appealing about revisiting an older sound with a modern mindset. Taking these sounds a bit out of context is charming, and nobody can pull it off quite like M. Ward—though it should come as no surprise that this approach doesn't reinvent the wheel. (www.sheandhim.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 5/10