So I’m the first to admit that I too have totally drank from the Zooey Deschanel Koolaid over the years. OK, that’s an understatement I pretty much have a deep and longstanding love of the chick. Ever since she sang ‘Please Please Please’ by The Smiths on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack I’ve been sold and I’ve pretty much wanted her to be my bff ever since because she seemed pretty freaking awesome!
OK fine, it was way before that. Guilty as charged. That time she played Sarah Jessica Parkers’s roommate in ‘Failure to Launch’, something about her war with the hummingbird, she was all quirky and neurotic and gun toting and it just got me. It was love. Then she went and married Ben Gibbard and became misses Death Cab For Cutie and it was like could she be any cooler? The answer was yes, yes she could because in 2008 in a collaborative effort with seasoned indie folk pro M.Ward she released She and Him: Volume 1. I was instantly drawn to the twee-tastic brand of dreamy nostalgia tinged indie; a throwback to the simplistic pop sensibilities of the 60’s merged with melodic modern folk. ‘Volume 2’ was much in the same vein except even better boasting up tempo anthemic chorus’s on tracks like ‘In the Sun’ and ‘Thieves’ firmly cementing their credentials as indie darlings in the royal court of indie royalty. Then like most love affairs it all went horribly wrong, for me at least. She parted company with hubby Ben Gibbard which I personally believe Death Cab’s music has never recovered from, released a questionable Christmas album and then came ‘New Girl’, a show that almost inexplicably enrages me on a very base and primal level… essentially this is where everyones favourite indie princess fell off the pedestal, sold out and cashed in… like big time. Think a surreal re-imagining of Zooey if she were an ordinary girl living in LA with a whole host of bizzare male roommates all whilst exploiting her ‘adorkable’ personality… the FOX networks words for promotional materials, not mine! It seemed like Zooey drank Zooey’s own Kool Aid.
So now I tend to feel a certain degree of burgeoning rage and irritation when confronted with the notion of Zooey and her brand of Geek Chic. I’m pretty sure I feel the same way about her as a lot of people feel about Lena Dunham, though for the record I think she’s pretty cool. Despite this I was still excited to hear She and Him Volume 3 even though from the get go I kinda wanted to dislike it.
Instantly I realised I couldn’t dislike this record even if I tried and trust me I tried… for a whole 30 seconds into the first track ‘I’ve got your number son’ I was determined to hate it but then it completely won me over. As a composer M.Ward is a phenomenon and the music is as enchanting as ever. It’s layered, tranquil and beautiful. The sound that reverberates through the first few tracks is one that is incredibly expansive and varied from violins to trumpets to cello’s especially on the second track and stand out number ‘Never wanted your love’. Zooey’s voice is flawless and dulcet and lyrically as relatable as ever remaining as smart, funny and sincere as the same girl who appeared in ‘Flakes’ a low budget movie about a cereal shop. On the track she croons ‘I don’t know what I’m doing this for All I know is that I’m tired of being clever Everyone is clever these days.’ It’s frank and endearing as are a number of tracks that deal openly with discontent, boredome and restlesness. ‘ Other stand out’s lyrically include the sultry ‘London’ and ‘Snow Queen’ that has my favourite line from the entire album, ‘Well, I would rather do a lot of despicable things Then sit around and wait, sit around and wait for the telephone to ring.’
With a duo like She and Him there is a risk to regurgitate the same tested formula for success by playing it safe, especially off of the back of so much commercial success but with ‘Volume 3’ they have managed to stay true to their sound whilst growing as musicians and producing an incredibly impressive album. Their first outing of original material in three years has been done so to avail and was well worth the wait. For now me and Zooey are cool again. It was so good I even feel I can sort of maybe try to watch New Girl again… no promises!