She & Him, 'Volume One' (Merge)

7
Volume One
Critical Mass
Label: Merge

by Jon Young

"She" is engaging actress and surprisingly competent singer Zooey Deschanel; "Him" is cool troubadour M. Ward, who produces, arranges, and plays guitar, adding Beatles, Phil Spector, and country touches to her likable pop tunes. And both seem to be having a blast acting out their fantasies, which makes Volume One consistent fun. If Deschanel occasionally resembles an overexcited amateur, it only adds to her charm, since the best songs offer a tasty blend of desire and innocence reminiscent of classic girl groups. "Sweet Darlin', " in particular, will brighten anyone's gloomiest mood.

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