She & Him

Thursday

SXSW Records

She & Him

Volume Two (Merge)

These days, every screen queen thinks she's a pop princess (see: Johansson, Scarlett), but Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward prove with She & Him's sophomore album that 2008's Volume One was more than a serendipitous tryst. While its sequel lingers in the same pop nostalgia, Deschanel vocalizes with a more natural confidence, and Ward's production feels fuller and slightly more adventurous. Infectiously upbeat numbers "In the Sun" and "Don't Look Back" bounce from the speakers, but the more subdued sway of "Me and You," "Sing," and gentle closing lullaby "If You Can't Sleep" serve the unconcerned, charming ease of Deschanel's voice best. As before, Ward largely avoids the mic, though his rasp, rising in harmony on "Lingering Still" and dueting NRBQ cover "Ridin' in My Car," provides highlights, as does the coy shuffle of Skeeter Davis' "Gonna Get Along Without You Now." Although too saccharine in places, She & Him's second time around spins wonderfully bittersweet. (Thu., 10pm, Cedar Street Courtyard; Fri., 10pm, Lustre Pearl; Sat., 8pm, Auditorium Shores.)

***.5

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