Look, it's really time to stop thinking of Zooey Deschanel as an unbearable Manic Pixie Dream Girl with a vanity side-project. She & Him, her vintage-y (stop cringing!) rock duo with M. Ward, is quite good.
While M. Ward enjoys a good reputation as a talented guitarist and folk musician, Deschanel draws a lot of skepticism. But here's the thing: she writes all of this band's music. She writes songs that sound like sunshine and a nice breeze, even when they're about broken relationships.
The charm in in the simplicity. “I could have been your girl / And you could have been my four leaf clover,” she sings on “I Could Have Been Your Girl” in her distinctive alto. Song to song, acoustic guitars strum, drums shuffle, strings swell and Ward occasionally sings along. His bigger contributions come in his strong, but not over-the-top, guitar solos and in his production, which puts a nice polish on the record without killing the easygoing mood.
Sometimes it can all get a little too sweet, mellow and nostalgic. But then, that's what you sign up for when you listen to She & Him. “Somebody Sweet to Talk To” might be just too much for some, but it's melody is still pretty irresistible. “Turn To White” balances out the airy lightness with a heavy heart and “I've Got Your Number, Son” balances that out with some pep and sass.
Volume 3 is just more proof that She & Him is no dalliance for Deschanel or Ward. Each volume has been so consistently lovely and well-made, it can't be just a manic pixie dream.