Fifi Xing digs out the not to be forgotten album by She and Him
When the quirky girl from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy teamed up with Portland-based guitarist M. Ward , She and Him was born. Volume Two is their delightful second album.
Music veteran M. Ward, of Monsters of Folk, has previously collaborated with the likes of Cat Power and Jenny Lewis, as well as releasing eight solo albums full of his dusty, bluesy folk-rock. You might recognise Zooey Deschanel for her leading roles in (500) Days of Summer, Elf and New Girl, despite that she has been musically active since long before her Hollywood career took off.
Volume Two is decidedly light on emotional exploration, and heavy on feel-good summer charm. Its upbeat and vintage-pop tones run throughout the album, permeating even the more forlorn and sleepy numbers. Cute, retro guitar riffs naturally trickle in and out of songs. M. Ward’s smoky, soulful vocals crop up here and there, pleasantly complementing Zooey’s own floating, sliding sound.
Zooey’s voice, which M. Ward describes as an “ultimate instrument”, is an innate homage to the 60s: her rosy alto conveys tinges of almost-Karen Carpenter, whilst her higher range, a little sour and a little sharp, harks back to the citrusy twangs of Loretta Lynn. It’s a pretty sound, and sweet on the ears, and although certain arrangements fall slightly repetitive (or seem a little ‘twee’), the nostalgic vocals provide a somewhat vinyl quality to each track, so much so that it’s hard to tell which numbers are covers of 60s hits and which are She and Him originals.
But Zooey’s voice alone doesn’t complete the album – there’s a wonderful orchestral layering that ebbs and flows throughout the entire set. Opening with an influx of tinny guitars and mellow violins, the collection resolves with Zooey’s lonesome humming, soporific and drifty – sandwiched in-between is a chorus full of pianos, tambourines and quirky off-beats decorated with M. Ward’s jazzy, sometimes psychedelic guitar work. A musical embodiment of the summer fling, with an undertone of growing self-awareness, She and Him’s Volume Two is definitely one to slip on repeat when the sun comes out.
Take a listen below on Spotify:
Featured image credit: Briana Baldwin/Wikipedia