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Albums Worth Mentioning

April 21, 2010

Volume Two, same as the first, but a little bit worse

She & Him
Volume Two
March 23, 2010


The theme of this year seems to be disappointment. The second most anticipated album from 2010, The Winter of Mixed Drinks by Frightened Rabbit, was nothing short of a let down, and now I have that familiar bitter taste in my mouth about She & Him’s sophomore album.

Everything I hear in Volume Two sounds like a reproduction of a song from their first album with one major difference: It’s not as fun. The whole time I’ve been listening to this album, in my mind I’ve been inserting Volume One lyrics and it seems to fit just fine except that Zooey’s voice is falling flat off the speakers.

Maybe I’m spoiled, but there was an indefinable enthusiasm present in the voice of Zooey Deschanel on each track. This charming exuberance was never more apparent than her playful laughing on “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” On Volume Two we are greeted with playful melodies (i.e. “Don’t Look Back” and “Over It Over Again”) but then get a particularly lackluster performance from the lead singer.

There are some songs, like the first single “In the Sun,” and, of course, the wonderful music created by Matt Ward, that highlight this album; however, it’s just not enough to propel this album to the heights of its’ predecessor. Overall, I would classify Volume Two as yet another misstep from an incredibly talented group.

She & Him – “In the Sun”

Wasilla Rock City

Portugal. The Man
American Ghetto
March 2, 2010
Equal Vision

Rating: 8.7/10

Wasilla is probably best known for giving us the indomitable republican, Sarah Palin, but it’s their second most famous export that are really making a name for themselves. Portugal. The Man burst on the scene with their album Waiter, You Vultures in 2006, a startlingly original composition of genre-bending lysergic bliss. Since 2006 the band has released four full length albums to various degrees of success.

The one constant among the band was failure to consistently stick with a specific genre. For instance 2007’s Church Mouth dwells more in the genres of blues and roots rock, whereas The Satanic Satanist from 2009 draws its’ sound from the psychadelic rock of the 70’s. Their latest effort, American Ghetto, doesn’t pick a certain genre so much as meld together their previous efforts into one cohesive style.

American Ghetto finds the band at the peak of their game, providing calm, cool psychadelia blended with quick hits of classic rock guitars. Standout tracks like “The Dead Dog” and “All My People” excel for their simplicity: cool, under control, poppy and genius.

This album is a staggering work of inventiveness; American Ghetto seems to find Portugal. The Man settled on a genre, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Portugal. The Man – “When the War Ends”

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