She & Him

Operating under the relative anonymity of the moniker She & Him, the unlikely duo of actress Zooey Deschanel and alt-rock/folk musician M. Ward came crackling out of the ether in 2008 like some stray broadcast from mid-'60s pop radio. With Deschanel's bouncy, irresistible melodies, breezy considerations of romantic travails, and charming, willowy voice matched with Ward's arch guitar, smart arrangements, and vintage production wizardry, She & Him adeptly spun the dial to a sunnier—at least on the gossamer pop front—era. The duo's Volume Two confirms Deschanel's aptitude as a songwriter whose deceptively simple style resonates well beyond the tunes' initial sugary high. And Ward again is a magician as he juggles indelible harmonies, effervescent strings, twangy country-rock echoes, and zinging pop conceits from Liverpool through the Brill Building to the beaches of Southern California into a sound that's at once achingly familiar yet as fresh as it is nostalgic. The album's two covers—NRBQ's "Ridin' in My Car" and Skeeter Davis's "Gonna Get Along Without You Now"—are telling of the pair's sources, and if you had a big enough scorecard you could keep track as the references whiz by: Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Dusty Springfield, Buck Owens. But the abundance of less definitive threads prove that She & Him's wondrous synthesis is more original and forward-looking than might be suggested from the get-go. With the Chapin Sisters. 18+. (Photo by Autumn De Wilde)
Sat., June 5, 6 p.m., 2010

 
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