The Sisterhood of Convolted Thinkers

Better Days Coming Now

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While 2001's Ume Sour reflected Rob Christiansen and Jeannine Durfee's stay in Japan and that country's certain fascination with flashy plastic and reflective culture influences, Better Days Coming Now finds the husband and wife duo back in Brooklyn, back on Teenbeat, and building another Sisterhood of Convoluted Thinkers album out of pop residue and little bits of happiness. Better Days Coming Now is like a Yo La Tengo album without the squelch and indie pop jones. Christiansen and Durfee deconstruct everything, separating out their cooing harmonies from plucked, faraway guitars ("Cradle"), recycling the Velvet Underground as patchy, keyboard-squiggle twee ("You Don't Mind Me"), and devoting their most ambitious arranging desires to a wavering and unpretentious tribute to the Bee Gees and chintzy cool love rock ("All You Want to Do Is Make Me Cry"). The album's tinny qualities can be somewhat trying; "Bug Light" is nothing more than the two of them singing to their frail selves. At the same time, the Sisterhood has been made stronger by the emergence of Durfee's vocals, as her particular non-singing singing voice is more interesting than Christiansen's. "Paul McGinnis" might be the best thing here. As chopped-up sequences and samples suggest early-'90s dance-pop (there just might be a smidgen of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" in there), Durfee lilts "You want to be a star/Look inside and make yourself strong," and her fragile style makes the song's message of empowerment that much stronger. Highly recommended for fans of more eccentric pop sounds.

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