If Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward are ever going to slow down, then it's not happening this year. The duo have been quite active in a number of different guises since they came together: since 2008, Ward has been involved in at least one new musical project every year, between his solo work, Monsters of Folk and his collaborations with Deschanel; the former, meanwhile, appeared with him as part of the Gary Lightbody-spearheaded Tired Pony supergroup, and she's had her hands full with New Girl. Now comes their third collaborative album in six years, with Ward on production duties and Deschanel overseeing the vocal side of things. So far, it's business as usual, but things have changed since the last time the pair worked together, and a sound that used to be a little on the light and airy side has been beefed up - to some extent at least.

As usual, Volume 3 arrives off the back of some excellent singles; there's a noticeable orchestral flair to 'Never Wanted Your Love', and 'I Could Have Been Your Girl' is a summery delight that addresses a relationship break-up, albeit one that's let down just a little by some awkward lyrics; as good as Deschanel's voice is, it can't carry lines like, "If I could do it over, I'd send you the pillow that I cried on." Her original contributions are mostly focused on love, and this becomes slightly tiring after a while, but her sugary-sweet melodies make for some effective earworms; the melodic efficiency makes up for most of Volume 3's shortcomings. She even manages to write a few tracks that feel like they could have been taken directly from the 1960s (opener 'I've Got Your Number, Son' features classic girl-group harmonies) without descending into pastiche.

With the release of a new She & Him album also comes speculation about the covers Deschanel's chosen this time around. There are a grand total of 3, and she must be given credit for her spins on them; one does not go near 'Sunday Girl' without a serious amount of confidence, but that song's suited to her voice, and fits in quite well at the tail end of the album, in between 'Snow Queen' and the noticeably more downbeat 'London'. I'd like to know what Debbie Harry would think; throwing a new wave classic into the mix of alt-country and clear-cut pop that makes up the majority of this album takes some guts; and her take on 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me' by Mel Carter is worthy of some praise, too. While not the genuine evolution in sound that some may have been looking for, Volume 3 is definitely an enjoyable album: familiar enough that the pair can stick to what they do best, and different enough to hint at further growth, if there should ever be a Volume 4. I wouldn't bet against that, and neither should you.