When you think about it, She & Him are a near-perfect combination. Take Zooey Deschanel, the geeky/adorable television star of New Girl and the not-so-secret crush of the majority of young guys; pair her up with indie music veteran M. Ward; and get them playing a blend of original and cover songs with a distinct retro-pop feel (complete with very wet echo-chamber reverb). The result is She & Him, an irresistible duo making smile-inducing music that is both chic and timeless. Their third effort, aptly titled Volume 3, takes us back in time once again with a collection of tunes that is sure to delight retro fans everywhere.
In this edition, Deschanel shines perhaps brighter than ever. While Ward provides the perfect band support pretty much every time, Zooey’s flitty vibrato and carefree attitude are tailor-made for this type of music—not to mention that she has stretched out a bit more with the songwriting. While the overall vibe of Volume 3 is light, fun, cruise-with-the-windows-down kind of fare, Deschanel seems to have drawn a bit from her personal life to stock the lyrical content for this one. It’s not a Taylor Swift-esque angsty breakup record by any stretch, but when Deschanel sings opening track “I’ve Got Your Number, Son” or lyrics like “I don’t want to be your mother” on “Together”, it’s hard not to speculate whether she’s making veiled references to Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard (the two divorced in 2011). Among the cover tunes, the standout for me is definitely “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”; Deschanel’s delivery is near flawless on this Mel Carter tune.
That said, if you’re a She & Him fan looking for some evolutionary breakthrough, you won’t find it here. Volume 3 is understandably a continuation of Volumes 1 and 2, and after all, the point of retro music is to look back more than forward. But if you’re looking for a fun listen, you’ve come to the right duo and the right album. You won’t be able to listen to this one without smiling.