She & Him
Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson
Over 15 years into its existence, and six albums (two of which are Christmas records) deep into their catalog, the floatiest of floating flatline voices and sticky instrumentalists, Zooey Deschanel (She) & M. Ward (Him) go for the sea-breeziest, beachiest, surf-wafting-est of all recordings: an album in tribute to Brian Wilson’s compositions with the master himself present.
Though thoroughly capable of writing endearingly sandy pop tunes of her own (the duo’s Volumes One, Two, and Three feature a majority of her compositions), Deschanel seems at weird ease interpreting like-minded musical moments—songs that just barely exist beyond the California cool jazz moment, but hint at the Bacharachian-bossa ’60s to come. Wilson, whose most arching, sophisticated, cosmopolitan melodies come after his B-Boyish surf-side hits, then, offers She & Him an elegant embrace.
Though the jittery likes of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and "Do It Again” (the latter with Wilson) offer the newfound trio (She & Him & He?) a deep-set neurotic vibe you wouldn’t think possible for Deschanel’s distingue vocals, the rest of Melt Away traffics in sloe-ginned-up melancholy and soft shoe-shuffling pacing. You’ll worry while allowing “Don’t Worry Baby” to wash over you, and wander wearily to their humming run through of “Please Let Me Wonder.”