The queen of quirky cool Ms Zooey Deschanel is back with another instalment of her highly successful collaboration with indie-folk songwriter M.Ward under the moniker She & Him.
Volume III is actually the duo's fourth album - and further evidence that Deschanel has something of the Midas touch. It seems the terminally cute actress turned chanteuse can do no wrong; in a career spanning fourteen years she has managed the rare feat of appealing to both the indie hipster set and a more mainstream audience with considerable aplomb. There have been rumblings of a Deschanel backlash of late – her TV show New Girl is quirky cute overkill and has led to some former ardent fans admitting feelings of 'Zooey fatigue', but her popularity with the masses shows no sign of waning.
When actors decide to launch a career in music, there is inevitable scepticism but right from the release of her debut album with She & Him in 2008, Deschanel's excursion into the world of pop was warmly greeted. The She & Him take on breezy, fifties and sixties style pop had a retro charm that fitted in very nicely with Deschanel's own public persona and sense of style. In truth, her first two albums received a pretty easy ride from the music press – so enamoured were we with Zooey's beauty and kooky charm, we tended to overlook the fact that she possessed a decidedly ordinary voice and the songs on those earlier albums were pleasant but slight and derivative.
Volume III is more of the same but probably the pick of the bunch to date – the songs are stronger, Deschanel has improved vocally to a noticeable degree and there is a greater air of confidence in how these songs are delivered. The Phil Spector-ish stomp of 'I've Got Your Number, Son' opens the album on a promising note while first single 'Never Wanted Your Love' calls to mind the sugary pop of the Ronettes and the Crystals. On the more sombre tracks 'London and 'Shadow of Love' Deschanel hints at a darker, more reflective side, at odds with the retro day-glow image that is so much part of the Deschanel brand.
That said, anyone expecting torturous introspection or an exploration of the dark side of celebrity success should look elsewhere. For the most part, Volume III keeps things light and frothy but does so with considerable, infectious charm.
Review by Paul Page | Three Stars