When it comes to indie queens of the Continental United States, there’s no skirting around it, Zooey Deschanel holds her own. Toting her own TV show, girly advice website, and, of course, half of this dynamic duo, she’s got her plate full. And of course, the Him of the title, M. Ward, has his own musical career in addition to this side project. So sometimes it’s even easy to forget about She & Him, but Volume 3 is a nice little reminder of the talent within this pair.
This third effort in this series of albums from She & Him is far from a reflection of its collective members being busy with their own lives, and more of a representation of the goodness that these two have to offer to the indie music scene. First up, they come at you swinging in “I’ve Got Your Number, Son,” which makes for a burst of color to start the album. High-pitched yelps and ‘oohs’ from Zooey are the first sounds to reach your ears, and from this instant, you know Volume 3 is going to be a work of higher energy from these two.
Higher energy, yes, but they still stick to their retro, Phil Spector ‘wall-of- sound’ style for this third work. Which leads me to essentially the same criticism I had with Volume Two: there’s just not a lot different than their previous album, or even Volume One. Granted, it works for the two of them, as Deschanel’s vocals seem to belong to another era entirely, and are suited nicely by the musical accompaniment of rag-timey piano, acoustic guitar, some simple bass lines. However while the band takes advantage of this to craft a style, which they have thus adhered to up to this point, on the tracks that don’t exactly pop out from the rest, the lack of novelty works against these two and I found myself tuning it out—it’s been done before…by them.
But that’s not to say that Volume 3 doesn’t have some mighty fine good tunes for fans or those who have been under a rock since 2008. In fact, there are quite a few hits on here that stand out not only on the album level, but also through She & Him’s whole catalog. There’s singles like “I Could’ve Been Your Girl” and “Sunday Girl,” that evoke a sassier side of Zooey, playing on her vocal tones and even employing a bit of playful French. On the other hand, at the end of the album you have some excellent slower numbers like “London” and “Shadow of Love–” both will wow you with their simple power and beauty within Deschanel’s vocals.
The bottom line is there’s nothing really fundamentally new to the style on Volume 3, which may exactly be what the band is going for by continuing the trend of entitling their albums ‘Volumes.’ If such is the case, then this is a contender for the most hits.