She & Him – ‘Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson’ album review

She & Him Melt Away A Tribute to Brian Wilson The Beach Boys album review
She & Him – ‘Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson’ album

She & Him – the duo made up of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward – make a welcome return with a tribute album to one of the finest songwriters of all time, Brian Wilson. Released just after the ‘Pet Sounds’ man’s 80thbirthday, the album finds the band putting their own spin on some of the Beach Boys biggest hits and some deeper cuts.

The record opens with M. Ward on vocal duties on ‘Darlin’, a spared-down song with gospel-tinged harmonies and Zooey taking over to deliver the heart-melting line: ‘You pick me up when I’m feeling sad’ before the track finishes with an uptempo flourish. ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ – surely one of the most popular songs ever recorded – is next with a traditional S&H makeover transforming it into something in the dream pop space – and you can hear the romantic longing. Things are then slowed down on the gently menacing ‘Til I Die’: ‘How deep is the ocean?’

‘Deidre’ gently bobs along with a soft and melodic sound while ‘Good to My Baby’ is more jaunty with bursts of signature M. Ward guitar before ‘Don’t Talk (Put Your Hand On My Shoulders)’ has a glitchy, stop-start opening that reminded us of Bon Iver before call-and-response vocals deliver lines that will melt your heart: ‘Don’t talk. Put your hand on my shoulders.’ M. Ward is back on lead vocals for ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ – which now resembles a Beach House song with Motown backing. ‘This Whole World’ is another romantic song – ‘And whenever I go anywhere, I see love’ – that showcases Brian’s idealistic mindset, while ‘Kiss Me Baby’ is just gorgeous: ‘Love to hold you tight’.

‘Please Let Me Wonder’ is another piece about being together backed by the most warming sound before ‘Meant for You’ ends the tributes with a genteel 90 seconds with Zooey and M. Ward in fine voice together. ‘Melt Away’ is the perfect title for this tribute to one of the greats. You know the melodies and words are already there, but M. Ward and Zooey have added nuanced and subtle sprinkles to the top of these sweet sounds. Now, who wants a Beach Boys binge?

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