She & Him - Volume 3

It’s fair to say that there are no real surprises here.

Label: Domino

Rating: 7

With a frenetic combined itinerary that spans sitcoms, solo material and alt-rock super groups it’s surprising this cute indie duo have any time to corner a recording studio for this particular project. This latest release is their third album of original material, comprising eleven songs written by Zooey Deschanel as well as three covers. As with their previous records, M Ward’s singing input is kept to a minimum, left to provide guitar and production foil. 

Deschanel has a likeable honeyed voice not unlike Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, a keenly felt influence, most notably on the catchy ‘Together’, a rare upbeat moment where subtle percussion meets a funky horn led groove. Another gem is ‘London’ which starts off as a hymn to our capital city before ending with the dismissive brush off of ‘London I’ll forget you’. It’s an understated track built around lilting piano and simple humorous lyrics which surmise the unique joys of our miserable British climate. ‘Somebody Sweet To Talk To’ with its sugary all-female group harmonies on the chorus will linger long inside your consciousness whilst the stripped back ‘Something’s Haunting You’ uses xylophone and unusual vocal noises to create that discomforting feel of a ghostly indwelling. 

It’s genuinely refreshing to hear lyrics and a sound that take you back to the days where romance was all about holding hands and Saturday night at the pictures. This is reflected in their choice of covers, Ray Noble’s delicate ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me’ and the Jeff Barry penned ‘Baby’ with it’s declarations of ‘I told you a million or more times that I love you so.’ These are pleasant enough but it’s their rendition of ‘Sunday Girl’ which solicits a smile, starting off faithful to the original before switching mid-song into French, slipping back into their native tongue with a heartfelt cry of ‘get the blues’. Whilst innocence pervades, Deschanel is equally convincing in coquettish mode, delivering such lines as ‘I never think before I run to the good and the wicked things you do’ and ‘I would bark but never bite’ with a knowing smirk.

The instrumental reprise of ‘I Could Have Been Your Girl’ saves proceedings from concluding with the uninspiring ‘Shadow Of Love’, its gorgeous string arrangement paired with the simplest of wordless melodies. It’s fair to say that there are no real surprises here but what we do get is a solid collection of retro tinged songs that will appeal to fans of their previous work. There may be a truly great record waiting to birth from their creative endeavours but only time will tell.