She & Him – Volume Two

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

My friend Brian hates Squeeze. I find this strange, though not because I am particularly invested in defending Squeeze. I do happen to think they have some great songs, but I really couldn’t care less about the band. And that’s my point. Squeeze seems like one of the most generic, inoffensive, fundamentally faceless bands there is. She & Him, despite their pedigree, has Squeeze beat at this particular no-win game. She & Him generate exactly zero passion on my part. They’re fine. I like their songs. But I couldn’t bring myself to say I love them even if it meant a lifetime of financial security for me and my children. I can’t imagine anyone loving this band.

What I Think of This Album

Volume Two is significantly better than Volume One, as if the debut had been a test balloon of some sort that, having not been brought down by hostile seagulls or red-eyed right-wing militia members, convinced Zooey Deschanel (in particular) that she could actually do this.

Deschanel offers up a very strong set of songs, and M. Ward also seems more at ease and willing to provide a bit more color than last time. Again, it’s all very light and lovely, cheery even when the subject matter is blue, taking everyone back to a time when we didn’t know that Phil Spector was a terrifying maniac.

From the wondrous opener “Thieves” to the Latin/county mashup “Lingering Still” to the clever reliance on Greek mythology in “Don’t Look Back” to the country-soul of “Home” to the straight country of “I’m Gonna Make It Better,” She & Him create a warm and welcoming universe where heartbreak is just the lemon in the lemonade. Also, not every song is countrified – “In the Sun” is jazz-disco.

Even the covers work this time, helped along by the fact that they are much more obscure than the ill-advised Beatles and Smokey Robinson efforts of the first album:  NRBQ’s “Ridin In My Car” and “Gonna Get Along Without You Now,” a song from 1951 whose most famous version is by Skeeter Davis in 1964 (though the Lemonheads and Bad Manners also covered it). Neither of these songs comes with enough heritage to overwhelm She & Him, and their versions are able to breathe and even thrive.

The Best Thing About This Album

The increased sense of confidence.

Release Date

March, 2010

The Cover Art

Pretty cool, and this time the figure has (partial) facial features, so it’s not nearly as nightmare-inducing.

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