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She & Him “Volume 3” – Album Review

Merge (2013)

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.

4 / 5 stars     

About the Author


Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Kim Phelps found her inspiration and love for music listening to local bands play in the coffeehouses around town. She soon found her own voice as a singer-songwriter, and eventually began playing her own gigs in the coffee shops. Her personal influences include Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Ingrid Michaelson and Cat Power, but as an indie musician herself, she has an affinity for any band or artist who pursues creative freedom on the outskirts of the music industry. As our Indie correspondent, Kim makes a point of highlighting up-and-coming independent acts who are creating a buzz and building an audience. When she's not blogging for us or playing in the coffee shops, Kim works as a barista herself to help pay the bills. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Featured, Indie/Alternative Music