She & Him are at it again, bringing out sweet tunes that will please both you and your grandma. The aptly named Classics is an album full of old standards with little deviation from their original styles; and hey, why mess with a good thing?
She & Him is one of those bands that I don’t think anyone really hates. All three of their original LPs and their Christmas CD recall the nostalgia of a bygone era. She & Him really outdo their usual throwback sound by only doing covers on this album.
Classics starts off with “Stars Fell On Alabama.” It’s a dreamy sort of song equipped with strings and a warm electric guitar. This would probably be a big hit at a barn dance on a warm summer night. Do people still have barn dances? I hope so.
“Oh No, Not My Baby,” is a more soulful song about blindly trusting your S/O for better or worse. “It’s Not For Me To Say” follows with a full orchestra. It’s a melodramatic song that conjures images of classy nightclubs where couples dance amidst clouds of cigarette smoke after finishing martinis.
Probably the most poppy song on Classics is “Stay Awhile.” While, She & Him’s version seems a little watered down compared to Dusty Springfield’s 1964 hit, it’s still a solid track. The same goes for “This Girl’s In Love With You,” “Time After Time,” and “It’s Always You.”
M. Ward takes over lead vocals on Charles Aznavour’s “She.” She & Him’s version is far more subtle than the original and I think it better suites the song and the general vibe of the album. None of the tracks on Classics seem overdone, which makes listening to the entire thing seamless and pretty enjoyable.
“Teach Me Tonight” is an innuendo-laden song (“One thing isn’t very clear, my love; should the teacher stand so near, my love?”) with Andrew’s Sisters-esque harmonies. It’s one of the more upbeat, playful tracks on the album and it’s a great song if you ever find yourself in a musical scenario where you have to charmingly lure your beau into your arms.
Possibly the most ambitious choice is “Unchained Melody.” This 1955 song made famous by The Righteous Brothers could have come off as a total dud, but I think She & Him know what they’re doing. In the same ways that “She” isn’t overdone, “Unchained Melody” seems to balance the original sentiments with an understated melancholy that the original lacked.
You can still hear the country origins in “I’ll Never Be Free.” This song has an interesting rhythm and would be a good soundtrack for pining after your lost love at the soda shop. “Would You Like To Take A Walk?” might be a little too sweet, but at 2:05 long, it’s over before it gets too Pleasantville. The album appropriately ends with “We’ll Meet Again,” a World War II era hit. As Zooey sings, I can imagine a USO dance where couples sway to this optimistic tune.
All of Classics had me thinking of bygone days of letter-writing, sock hops and strolls down elm-lined lanes. It’s rosy and a bit sad. Not where I’d like to stay, but a lovely place to visit.
Classics is out everywhere December 2.