Monday, March 15, 2010

she and him

i don't know if i've ever liked a cd the first time i heard it this much before.
zooey deschanel, you're amazing.

For such a mild-mannered and ingratiating indie-pop duo, She and Him sure is polarizing. That division is what happens when a ubiquitous singer-songwriter (M. Ward) teams up with a quintuply ubiquitous, egregiously doe-eyed, vaguely quirky film actress (Zooey Deschanel). It's a recipe for skepticism, before the "play" button has even been pressed.

Once it has, though, She and Him's timelessly sunny pop throwbacks are far easier to defend. As on its predecessor (the title of which will become apparent in a moment), Volume Twofeatures a lot more She than Him. These are, after all, Deschanel's winsome, lilting songs — she wrote them all, with Ward acting in more of a producer/arranger role — so it's no surprise that she looms large.

In songs such as "Home," Deschanel pines for a lover, but she still sounds like she's singing through a smile. As a result, Volume Two — available here for streaming in its entirety until its release on March 23 — isn't exactly dragging listeners through a complex emotional hellride. It's more confection than confessional, but it's a kind-natured one; the audio equivalent of a spring breeze that wafts in at a perfect time.

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