She & Him’s Volume Three is out tomorrow via Merge Records, and as implied by the title, the album is another chapter in the nouveau ’60s twosome’s musical novella.
Volume Three begins with a bang. Effervescent opener, the infectiously foot-tapping “I’ve Got Your Number, Son,” is everything you’d want or have come to expect from the duo. But what we also learn from the outset is that She & Him’s lyrics and attitudes aren’t quite as chaste as they once were.
Don’t get me wrong, Deschanel’s not waxing Amy Winehouse dark or anything — the manic pixie dream girl is alive and well — but Deschanel is both more worldly and disarming than ever on Volume Three. Her penchant for quips and sarcasm has yet to really shine through in her musical efforts, but on this album we catch brief glimpses of the attitude that first made Deschanel the snarky big-screen BFF of our dreams.
The usual pinings for love have, in some cases, been replaced with very real, very caustic and self-serving musings on the subject. “I don’t wanna spend night after night with you while you figure it out / You’re getting restless, I’m getting restless looking at you / I don’t wanna be rocking hard times / Cause I figured you out / You’re not a man who can understand anyone but you,” Deschanel unloads on the first track.
The track “Together” also offers some interesting departures for the duo, featuring both string overtures and a sax interlude. The album is packed, offering 14 tracks of mostly original material alongside the requisite cover. Deschanel breathes new life into “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” the 1952 classic that has been tackled by a line of notable singers before her. Volume Three’s version begins starkly before it builds to layered string arrangements, and this starkness affords the song the ability to at once be awash in an endearing mild country twang and a soulful lust.
With Zooey Deschael’s intriguing new material and M. Ward’s expanding arrangements, the duo has managed to release an album of quintessential She & Him music while still offering listeners fresh nuances.
If you can’t wait another day to hear the album (Volume Three is out tomorrow), you can grab an early listen at NPR.
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