Release Date: Oct 28, 2016
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Holiday, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Holidays, Christmas
Christmas Party is the second collection of Christmas covers from Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, who write and perform together as She & Him. Their sixth LP in total, it follows the duo's 2014 non-holiday covers album Classics and sticks to an established area of expertise: broadly, 20th century pop. Unlike Classics, which featured a 20-piece orchestra, Christmas Party brings a core combo of guitar, bass, and drums to the soirée, along with a healthy dose of reverb and a handful of embellishments.
With dozens, if not hundreds of Christmas albums flooding the market beginning each October, it begs the question whether or not we need more renditions of the same holiday classics turned in by contemporary pop stars. Given the fickle ephemerality of fame in the 21st century, is it worth the effort to seek out these albums and, in many cases, performers that are as fleeting as the season itself? Can we not be content with the thousands of Christmas-themed recordings already in existence? Do we really need to supplement the tried and true classics with contemporary spins on these same songs? At the risk of sounding like a real Scrooge, it’s hard to argue in favor of, let alone justify the existence of yet more Christmas recordings each year. So jaded are those turned off by the whole commerciality of the holiday season that the mere mention of Christmas music is enough to send them into frighteningly frothing paroxysms of anti-Christmas rhetoric.
The annual deluge of holiday releases seems to have a broader than usual range, from Georgian singer Katie Melua’s offering with Russian and Eastern European elements to R&B crooner R. Kelly’s pleasant surprise of a Christmas collection. There’s also the usual bevy of country artists weighing ….
Whatever you think of She & Him, they’re probably impervious to it by now. They’re never going to reinvent the wheel, but they’ve never professed a desire to do so, either. M. Ward, for a start, is a dyed-in-the-wool musical nostalgist, and when this reviewer spoke with him back in April about his latest solo record, the sorely-underrated More Rain, he spoke in genuinely moving terms of the escapism that his favourite 60s pop songs granted him - about how the AM radio classics of his youth were the obvious port of call once he’d finished reading the New York Times every morning.