Every once in a while, a pop songs blindsides you can knocks you off your feet. One song that has recently and unexpectedly become lodged in my brain is She & Him's "Sweet Darlin'," off of last year's Volume 1. With its Motown drumming, hand-clap percussion, and coo-ing harmonies, it sounds like it could easily have been the third-to-last song played at the 1966 Holy Angels Academy senior prom, and I mean that in the best way possible. I have played it about 25 times since hearing it for the first time last weekend, and will probably have to hear it at least 25 more before I get it out of my head.
When She & Him's Volume 1, hit stores last spring, I took notice, but not much else. After hearing a couple of their pleasant but by no means earth-shattering covers of "You Really Got A Hold On Me" and "I Should Have Known Better," I wrote off the pairing of M. Ward (a critically praised singer-songwriter) and doe-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel as just another (admittedly well-done) vanity project for a Hollywood actor who overestimated their considerable ability to coast by on charm alone - a better-produced sibling of the sort of crap that Bruce Willis and Eddie Murphy foisted upon the unsuspecting American public for decades. I've had a crush on Zooey Deschanel ever since she played William Miller's older sister in Almost Famous, and she has more musical talent than most big-name actors, but despite all of that and some favorable reviews I never took the music seriously on its own terms. I now see that I sold it short, and I'm glad I gave it a second chance.