She & Him – Volume Two

“Sometimes, lonely isn’t sad,” Zooey Deschanel croons in the album opener, “Theives,” over instrumentation that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Roy Orbison tune. That sense of optimism in the face of failed love in “Thieves” carries forward throughout the album; there’s a genial, conversational tone to her lyrics and stories, and while the thematic content of the songs hasn’t change much (or, really, at all) from Volume One, but Deschanel and Ward are mining such a rich, comfortable source that you can always draw from.

Volume Two builds on the sonic palette from the first album, adding new sonic touches such as old-school countrypolitan strings and more electric guitar (both of the warm, 1950s Patsy-Cline style and Ward’s more typical spidery electric leads) to the warm, strummy acoustic base. There are touches of steel guitar and some piano and keyboards as well, and Ward surrounds Deschanel’s voice with a Phil Spector-ish wall of sound. While Deschanel’s voice is limited, it’s limited in a charming way, and she manages to work around her limitations in such a way as you don’t notice or mind so much.

Volume Two is a great continuation of the Deschanel/Ward collaboration, and hopefully the two will continue making comfortable, warm, sunny pop music for a long, long time.

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