- by James Weiskittel Rating:7 Release Date:2016-10-28 Label: Columbia
Sheesh, I can’t believe it’s that time already. I swear it seems like every year department stores all but skip Halloween and Thanksgiving and start advertising for Christmas earlier and earlier. And nothing helps settle in that Yuletide spirit quite like a Christmas Album from your favorite band or artist...right???
Full disclosure: I pretty much hate Christmas music. Perhaps it’s my years working retail, perhaps it’s the complete over-saturation in the genre, or perhaps it’s my loathing of crass-commercialization infiltrating something as sacred as a band’s catalogue. Either way, She & Him, that bubbly duo featuring Zoe Deschanel and M Ward, are about to release their second (yes, their second) take on this time-honored classic, the aptly titled Christmas Party.
You would be right to assume that She & Him have essentially applied their well-honed formula of Indie-by-way-of-the-sixties-Folk to yet another quirky batch of Christmas tunes. After all, with a handful nearly identical studio albums, it’s hard to imagine that She & Him would dare tread into new sonic territory via what essentially amounts to a stocking stuffer.
But Christmas Party actually surprises a little here and there, with Deschanel showing off some new tones (particularly on her soulful rendition of the album opener “All I Want for Christmas is You”) in the vocal department while the duo puts their own spin on such time-honored classics “Let It Snow”, “Winter Wonderland”, and the upbeat swing of “Must Be Santa”. It should be noted (as someone was so kind to point out*) that this album is also a bit more upbeat than the last (the mournfully melancholic A Very She & Him Christmas).
Perhaps the only real gripe with Christmas Party is that despite some more adventurous arrangements this time around, l still can’t help but hear a bit of a ‘paint by numbers’ approach to these songs. And perhaps that’s the rub with Christmas records; after all there’s only so many ways one can perform “Run Run Rudolph”. Semantics aside, Christmas Party is yet another adequate addition to the soon-to-be-overflowing Holiday music bins; an album that delivers precisely as advertised.
The final verdict on Christmas Party may be as simple as where one stands on both She & Him and Christmas music in general. If you like either then it’s probably worth a listen. If you like niether then why are you still reading this? And if you like both I suggest you add this to your list!
*In my haste to originally post this review I mixed up which collection I was listening to and erroneously referred to song titles from the first She & Him Christmas album. Someone was kind enough to point this out hence my revision and appreciative shout-out.