She & Him - This is not a Test

Alisha Ahmed 05/12/2008

Rating: 4/5

Sometimes meaning in music comes from stepping back and looking at (listening to) it from a wider perspective. That's definitely the case for the duo project She & Him. As little known as they seem to be, they managed to get their album at the top spot of the Paste Magazine top 50 and what's even more amazing, everyone I hear talking about them seems to agree. So just in case you're not part of their faithful followers yet, let me break the news to you gently: their '70sish sound comes pleasantly full circle if you think that 1/2 of this duo consist of actress-turned-singer Zoey Deschanel of "Almost Famous" fame, while the other half is M. Ward, who previously collaborated with Bright Eyes among the others, and who also produced Volume One himself.

"This is not a test" is quite the embodiment of this spirit, maybe with a country-ish backtaste, distilled in three and a half minutes. If a video was ever produced, I would definitely sugegst Deschanel to repriese her "Anita Miller" character, because the whole atmosphere would just suit her perfectly.

If you want to look at it from a little bit further away, drawing the big picture might become interesting. It became really interesting to me as when listening to the single I also stumbled across the second album by Camera Obscura, and that made it all click together: if Camera Obscura's sound and image works like the European version of the '70s (industrial post-war and bohemianly essential like a country sagra) She & Him are the US version of that same historical moment, where peace and love were a concept very well held, but the weight of reconstruction never really fell onto their shoulders so everything was somewhat happier and more colorful. If I am to take this comparison in the movie-world I would say that She & Him are the atmosphere you see in "Almost Famous" (funnily enough, still going full circle) while Camera Obscura are more like "The Dreamers", but that's the link: they're both different sides of the same era, both reminding (and nostalgic) of a time none of them when neither of them where even born yet, but walking pretty damn well in those 70s shoes. Especially considering someone lately decided that the wagon to jump on now had the 1980s stamped all over its hub. So thank God then, that someone can still be original and yet sound good at the same time.