She & Him make music for an eternal springtime, when the temperature is warm enough to go riding with the top (or at least the windows) rolled down and the radio turned up. They occupy an alternate universe where the saddest of songs feel as warm as sun showers; the rain may be coming down, but somewhere nearby, everything looks bright. What began as a fascinating, no-strings attached collaboration on 2008’s Volume One has evolved into a bona fide, touring band, and She & Him are here to stay. Zooey Deschanel and Matt Ward are as comfortable and complementary a musical pair as Les Paul and Mary Ford; hearing them again on Volume Two feels like getting together with two old friends. This time, the harmonies have grown more angelically layered, the string arrangements more dramatic, the songwriting even sharper and more confident. But, as with Volume One, the prevailing mood is bittersweet, dreamy, and romantic.
They successfully got through their first gigs under the media glare of Noise Pop and South by Southwest, following those performances with a short summer tour and an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival. Critics were as smitten as their listeners. Paste named Volume One its Album of the Year. The BBC declared, “All the ups and downs of young romance are faithfully recreated in loving fidelity and a variety of styles to evoke that teary-eyed yesteryear pop ambience.” Spin simply decided, “They both seem to be having a blast.”
Volume Two was recorded in Los Angeles (where She lives) and Portland, OR (where Him resides). Joining them for these sessions was engineer, bassist and occasional backing vocalist Mike Coykendall. Notes Deschanel, “I do the bulk of the harmonies, then Matt will fill in some sonic space that I just cannot fill because he has that incredibly raspy, soulful voice. We cover different emotional ground. It’s a cool sort of tool to use. I hear Matt’s voice here or my voice there. Together we can sound like a lot of people. And Coykendall is quite a good singer too.”