she and him volume two
  • TUESDAY, MARCH 23, 2010

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To the pleasures of both Brooklyn hipsters and their parents, retro-rockers She & Him once more dig out the letter jackets, beehives, and Brylcreem to deliver their sophomore record Volume Two. Magically transporting us back to a time when cigarettes were cool and drive-in movies were the best place to misbehave, the duo returns two years out from their debut Volume One, narrowly avoiding the brink of themselves becoming only a happy memory.

Volume Two is about as straightforward as an album gets, especially in the modern world of sound engineering. Consisting primarily of clean guitars, brush snare, and timely backup vocals, She & Him are one of many rock bands which stand in opposition to the bizarre evolution of surreal distortion and agenda-driven poetry on the other side of the rock n' roll spectrum. That's good news for the nostalgic and the hopelessly romantic. But while on the one hand, Volume Two can feel like a breath of fresh air, there remains a nagging feeling that the air is not fresh after all, but more recycled somewhere between here and a far distant land.

Thankfully, the gems littering what has the potential to otherwise be a stone keep the cynical fears of refurbished culture at bay. Subtle guitars licks find a perfect match compliment in Deschanel's sweet vocals singing about the innocence of puppy love, and a strikingly balanced mix ensures that the nuanced intricacies of production are rarely or maybe even never lost on the listener. Most notable on Volume Two is the track "Home" with it's catchy melody, classic leads, and a careful, sporadic modulation between time signatures, keys, and rhythmic styles, underscoring the band's potential to add an original-feeling twist to the stereotypical sounds of the Fifties.

It's too early to tell if retro-rock is here to stay or if it's just another rash irony of a most temperamental generation of music-lovers. At least in the meantime, She & Him continue to provide us with oddly universal tunes which offer one more narrow yet welcome bridge over the ever growing chasm between generations of rock n' roll.

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MP3:"Thieves" - Volume 2
She and Him on Myspace

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