Artist: She & Him
Album: Volume 3
Genre: Alternative, Indie Pop
Label: Merge Records
She & Him belong in the 1960s. They formed as a combination of the new, 2010s indie rock scene and the 1960s music; their songs were meant for nostalgia. That’s their whole deal. This whole deal creates a problem for reviews and opinions, though: how can a band making formulaic tunes based on fifty years ago make constant progress? What IS progress for that?
I don’t know the answer to that, and it’s lead me to mixed feelings on Volume 3. On one hand, virtually all of the songs are catchy and enjoyable; there’s nothing cringe-worthy here and you’d be hard pressed to find a single person who would hear this music and run away from it. On the other hand, making extremely tolerable music doesn’t mean you’re making any sort of good music. The first half of songs on this album are more forgettable than any others in She & Him’s limited discography; it is as though they’ve been written for the Time/Life 60s Collections that used to be a late night advertising staple in the 90s.
But yet, the second half has some shining gems. Once the group begins their cover of “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” Volume 3 takes a turn into a much higher quality. The originals suddenly become more memorable, and the other cover, Blondie’s “Sunday Girl,” is changed lightly in style so it still sounds familiar but also sounds new – you know, the way covers should be done. But it’s just so odd that even the lead single, “Never Wanted Your Love,” is a toss-away pop ditty, and a song that was clearly meant to be the stand out by the way it has a reprise, “I Could’ve Been Your Girl,” is mostly meh until its instrumental second coming.
Overall? If you’re a fan, this is probably a noteworthy addition to your collection, but in a world where Merge Records is packed with artists who have done no wrong, She & Him mistepped here. More of the same is only a winning ideology for so long. For a band that started out with an original mixture of old and new, they’ve evolved into a stale mix of old and new.
Review Written By: Dan Bogosian (Twitter)