She & Him

Volume One
(Merge Records)

With the possible exception of the three people who look back fondly on Bruce Willis' recording career, we're well acquainted with the eardrum damage that can occur when actors live out their rock-star fantasies. But don't shy away from She & Him's debut just because the female half of the team is Zooey Deschanel. After all, she's not that famous: Though she was great during a limited run in Weeds, most people know her as "that cute girl in Elf." And besides, her partner is M. Ward, a distinctive performer who ensures that Volume One's abundant charms are balanced by quirks. Deschanel's reedy voice perfectly suits material that ranges from cabaret airs like "Sentimental Heart" to an echo-laden duet on Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got a Hold on Me." As for the concluding "Sweet Darlin'," it's a Wall of Sound wonder that whets appetites for Volume Two. Good actors know you've always got to leave 'em wanting more.

 
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