Cuddly Duo Pops Prozac Like It’s 2012

She & Him

Volume Two

Merge Records

Zooey Deschanel’s dodged the Hollywood archetype of good-actress, terrible-singer once again, with the help and hipster street-cred of folkster M. Ward after the duo mastered effortless pop on 2008’s Volume One.

She & Him’s follow-up, Volume Two, is a continuation of the charming, ‘60s-inspired sound the duo perfected on their debut, which proves to be a blessing and a curse. The breezy tunes of this collaboration are unabashedly fun, but on repeat they’re a lot less charming.

Deschanel is mostly to blame, as Ward seems content in the shadows, tinkering in the album’s background. In the spotlight, Deschanel’s quaint voice doesn’t have the emotional range to create moving music; even her saddest songs are sunny.

The excessive sentimentality and cutesy melodies, idealizing the lifestyles of Californian youth, make for perpetually-adolescent pop. When Zooey has the blues, it’s teenage blues, and you just can’t take high school heartbreak all that seriously. It’s all good fun, but both musicians are certainly past the puberty-ridden stages of young love.

That’s not to say the album doesn’t offer the perfect soundtrack to a California summer. M. Ward’s country-tinged guitar and Deschanel’s saccharine croon prove to be an endearing, albeit tired combination. Nonetheless, the album still exudes the expected twinkly charm.

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