Volume 3 echoes another era – it’s nostalgic but the classic twist is freshened up with accomplished lyrics, youthful harmonies and M. Ward’s production lending the record a golden light.

Volume 3 is She & Him’s most well-rounded, thematically consistent release to date (A Very She & Him Christmas had a built-in theme already so it doesn’t count!). Zooey Deschanel’s husky coo is offset with lush instrumentation and warm production, with M. Ward’s silkier tone as ever providing one of the most interesting layers to the pair’s dynamic.

 

‘I’ve Got Your Number, Son’ is a jangly piano-driven number with gently chiding lyrics, ‘Never Wanted Your Love’ is all ooohs and rock’n’roll guitar, held aloft by dreamy violin. ‘Baby’ brings in Ward’s harmonies amongst more effervescent oohs, and ‘I Could’ve Been Your Girl’ is a wistful musing of missed opportunity buffeted by swirling strings. A cover of Blondie’s ‘Sunday Girl’ blends the verses in English and French – a sweet touch that ordinarily might drive those not so quirk inclined over the edge, but in the context of the album works wonderfully. ‘Reprise (I Could’ve Been Your Girl)’ brings it all full circle in another cascading flurry of strings.

 

The strings and horns are the main departure from the earlier She & Him discography. M. Ward’s warm arrangements bring a slick groove to Deschanel’s songs, while still letting her mournful voice remain the focus for the ballads (like ‘London’). While she has been handed criticism for being too “twee” or “cutesy” in the past, Deschanel sounds assured on Volume 3, her voice fluctuates with the emotional resonance of the songs, and there is a maturity to her lyrics that elevates them well beyond the realm of trivial and childish.

 

*** and a half stars out of five

 

BY NATALIE AMAT

 

Volume 3 is out not on Spunk Records.

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