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From the surface details, it may appear She & Him’s latest is a gloomy break-up record. Songsmith/multi-instrumentalist M. Ward incorporates more melodramatic string arrangements while Zooey Deschanel lyrically digs deeper into heartbreak. Compared to its sunny predecessor, Volume 3 is an overcast pop record.

But Deschanel is nowhere broken. The record could be summed up nicely from its track “Together,” as Deschanel sings “Yes, we all go through it together/ and we all go at it alone.” “I’ve Got Your Number, Son” establishes a sense of independence from the record's very start. Even at her most unsure moments, Deschanel’s vocals remain confident, tough.

When loneliness sets in, it’s a time for evaluation rather than self-pity. “I’m stronger than I pictured,” Deschanel realizes in the somber “Turn to White.” The best melancholy songs here are self-critical without being too much of a bummer.

There is the trademark She & Him playfulness throughout that prevents Volume 3 from taking a nosedive into sadness. No matter how tough it gets, the music stays optimistic. Deschanel may be working with shades of gray this time around, but it doesn’t stop her from shining warm and bright.

Record: Volume 3
Artist: She & Him
Label: Merge
Songs: (1) I've Got Your Number, Son (2) Never Wanted Your Love (3) Baby (4) I Could've Been Your Girl (5) Turn to White (6) Somebody Sweet to Talk To (7) Something's Haunting You (8) Together (9) Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me (10) Snow Queen (11) Sunday Girl (12) London (13) Shadow of Love (14) Reprise (I Could've Been Your Girl)

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SurfPuppy619 July 20, 2013 @ 7:39 p.m.

Zooey Deschanel is my fav from "Elf".....

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