She & Him Volume 3

She & HimVolume 3
Zooey Deschanel, the actress, is often criticized for playing the same character in every film and TV show, so much so that there's even a Saturday Night Live skit devoted to her zany, quirky roles. Zooey Deschanel, the musician, is gradually sliding down the same rabbit hole. Volume 3 reunites Deschanel with folk rocker M. Ward, but from songwriting to performance there's a heavier emphasis on the She than the Him. With 11 original songs by Deschanel and three covers, Volume 3 is brimming with sunshine pop melodies and saccharine harmonies. The production is clean and the tunes, as mentioned, sweet, but this is a sugary confection that's bound to get lost in the candy store. Bringing nothing new to the fold, this album easily dissolves into the discography of She & Him's work, which has boasted stronger songs than the majority of Volume 3. One of the album's highlights, "Baby" (an Ellie Greenwich cover), is in part due to the presence of Ward, with his raspy, complementary voice and beach-y riffs. A more balanced approach or step outside Deschanel's formulaic, lovelorn jingles could hopefully save future releases before She & Him too become a parody-worthy gimmick. (Merge)