Volume 3: the third album from M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel’s project She & Him has a title that should set it up for the following review: “She & Him release a third album without much innovation that won’t win or lose any fans,” but that’s not what this album is. This album actually shows the first hints at a new direction from the duo that have a made a name for their nostalgic 50s aesthetic. Although much of the album could fit nicely on any other album by the duo, as the album unfolds it’s clear that the band is not just releasing more of the same.
Without question, this is the most easily recommendable album from She & Him. The tracks on this album that could easily fit on past albums are some of their best, and the duo has definitely perfected the blissfully nostalgic aesthetic by now. “I Could’ve Been Your Girl” may not be the best upbeat track from them to date, but it certainly ranks in the top. All their typical tricks—masterful vocal harmonies, Ward’s strong instrumentation, and Deschanel’s charming (if not sickeningly so) voice—are in full effect. Paired with the album closer reprise, this track plays a strong role in tying the album together to simultaneously display what they do best and where they could be headed next.
Although a generalization, the first half of the album could be mixed and matched with the anything from the first two volumes, but the second half begins to lead into new territory for She & Him. The almost too happy nostalgic twee sound of the duo gets supplemented with some strong tunes that break the She & Him mold and are a lot deeper. For most of this album,if you liked their previous two albums, you’ll like this one, but if perhaps you are one of the M. Ward fans that disliked the repetitive 50s aesthetic, a few of these tracks should not be missed.
This album has a lot more tracks that are paired down, focusing on Deschanel’s vocals and simple instrumentation. For those who enjoy a simple song with just a single singer and instrument, “London” is a real treat. Perhaps this record will bring new fans to She & Him; perhaps those that make fun of Deschanel’s sing-a-song-to-make-everything-better vibe will be drawn to some of the deeper tracks on this album. But regardless of how the masses respond, this album shows real growth from the duo, and perhaps the future holds even better things in store from them.
RIYL: M. Ward, Ben Gibbard, the Lumineers
Key Tracks: “London,” “Shadow of Love,” “I Could’ve Been Your Girl”
Stream “I Could’ve Been Your Girl” below via YouTube: