‘Volume Two’ | She & Him

| Cadenza Movie Editor

I love Zooey Deschanel. I should start by saying that, but I swear to you that it didn’t affect my review at all. In fact, I wasn’t expecting to like She & Him’s “Volume Two” at all. Before listening to it, I was never a fan of Deschanel’s voice. It is definitely interesting, but it just didn’t grab me. After listening to the album, though, I was pleasantly surprised to discover another side of the actress/singer’s voice.

On “Volume Two,” She & Him, consisting of Deschanel and M. Ward, bring a ’60s/“Grease”-like sound to modern music. It’s fun, cute, catchy and different. What they bring to the table, aside from their catchy music, is their uniqueness. They don’t sound like anything else out there, at least not anymore.

There are really three main characters on this album, the first of whom is the lead singer, Zooey Deschanel. Her voice is very unique. It isn’t strong, but it’s enticing. It grabs hold of your ears and doesn’t let go. While it does sound the same on a lot of the tracks, she shows her range on songs like “Ridin’ in My Car” and “Brand New Shoes.” You just have to let her voice wash over you.

M. Ward’s guitar takes on a large supporting role on “Volume Two.” His picking and strumming is what gives the album its old-school vibe. Mixed in with the ’60s vibe is both Spanish-sounding and beach-sounding guitar. The mellow “Me and You” in particular reminds me of lying on a beach in Hawaii as the palm trees sway back and forth.

The third most important player on the album is the background chorus. This element also greatly adds to the old-school vibe of the album. It sounds like it was pulled directly off of a doo-wop track from back in the day. It’s fun, mellow and all-around cute.

One of the best songs on the album is the first, “Thieves,” which serves as a great introduction to the album. It includes all the aforementioned elements, and it sets the tone for the entire album. It’s relaxed and could be straight out of “Grease.” In my head, I can see John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John dancing and singing to this song all around their high school.

While the mellowed-out ’60s sound is certainly wonderful and works for most of the album, She & Him also shine when they mix it up on songs like “Brand New Shoes.” The song, which features M. Ward’s guitar and Deschanel’s singing, is slow, introspective, emotional and very “indie.” It is very similar to a lot of Ingrid Michaelson’s style.

There are certainly no bad songs on “Volume Two,” but there are a couple of songs in the middle that don’t quite soar. “Home” and “I’m Gonna Make It Better,” for example, are just a little boring. They’re fine, but they don’t stand up to the caliber of the other songs on the album.

“Volume Two” has turned me. Before this CD, I primarily thought of Zooey as a fantastic actress. Now, I am happy to add a “slash-singer” to her title, because she has convinced me. She & Him’s album is a wonderful collection of old-school vibes, cool guitar and soulful vocals. It is worth everyone’s attention and, after one listen, will most likely grab it.

For fans of: Karen O, Marina & the Diamonds, Feist
Tracks to download: ‘Thieves,’ ‘Me and You,’ ‘Brand New Shoes’