She & Him
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., March 21, 2008
She & HimParish, Friday, March 14
The comparisons between Zooey Deschanel and Jenny Lewis are unmistakable, the Elf princess turned pop queen with M. Ward's help recalling her crossover predecessor before Lewis left Pleasantville for the red-light district. From her long-flowing locks and matronly dress to an irresistible pop and twang, Deschanel sounds and looks utterly familiar, though appreciatively so given the stains revealed Under the Blacklight of Rilo Kiley's latest. With the show packed to the back of the Parish, the buzz of Deschanel and Ward's unlikely pairing as She & Him proved justified, debuting songs from Volume One (Merge). Ward smartly plays the supporting role, his guitar-picking and scruffy voice only rarely rising to join the luster of Deschanel's lead, as with a sultry duet on Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got a Hold on Me." Opener "Black Hole" bounced with AM radio simplicity, while "I Was Made for You" wove 1960s girl-group bliss against Ward's chugging rhythm. Although Deschanel's voice rang expressive, her stage presence was dreadfully disaffected and stiff, the singer scratching her face distractingly during songs and staring blankly at the Parish's Chinese lanterns in either bored or sedated nonchalance. No doubt Ward has plucked a new star, however.