The third and final album from this husband and wife duo.
Jeannine Durfee, vocals, bass guitar, drums, et cetera
Rob Christiansen, vocals, guitar, keyboard, et cetera
AND QUITE OFTEN
Mike Halverson, drums, bass guitar, percussion
David Garland, piano on 5
John Rickman, drums on 5
and Jeannine Durfee
at home, Brooklyn, New York, USA
at DB Plus, New York, New York, USA
and Jeannine Durfee
the title track written by Kyoko
John Foster, Fuszion Collaborative
A short film set to the music of "Bug Light" is embedded within the compact disc and is viewable with a personal computer.
THIS MADE POSSIBLE BY
This is the third album from Jeannine Durfee and Robert Christiansen. Rob has recorded bands such as Low, LaBradford, and Unrest. He was also in indie-prog band Eggs and played in Grenadine with Jenny Toomey.
"On roughly half of these songs, the Sisterhood of Convoluted Thinkers (which, oddly enough, has more men than women) play gentle, minimal music in the spirit of Young Marble Giants -- ad hoc percussion or rudimentary drum programming backing up subtle, three or four note melodies knocked out on bass guitar or picked out on a Casio -- but with less metronomic precision to their playing. On the other half, they explore the possibilities of faux-orchestral mall-organ arrangements in the manner of the Magnetic Fields, but without the smug irony or cleverness. When they mount an ersatz-disco homage on "All You Want to Do Is Make Me Cry", it's not to rub their recherche tastes in our face -- it's only to reveal more starkly the desperation that was always present in the genre, the pathos of lonely people in clubs trying to find meaningful connection in a place and with a manner least suited to it. In both approaches, there is an innocence to their songs that never crosses over into preciousness orprecociousness, despite occasional whimsy (particularly in "Bug Light") and the threat posed by Jeannine Durfee's schoolgirlish voice. However, by stripping her delivery of anything resembling seductiveness (which would imply a scheming calculation, a knowingness that thwarts innocence), Durfee is able to project a guileless yearning that is easy to sympathize with, easy to assume as an expression of your own hopes if you were so inclined. Often stumbling in their rhythms, or slightly missing cues, the Thinkers reveal unpolished edges, an unsteadiness that serves them well, giving a sense of organic spontaneity, while capturing just how fragile the impulse to create can be. The way the vocals are recorded contributes to this as well: the mikes' input level is turned way up, so they pick up a lot of the room as well as the voices, making for a palpable intimacy that at the same time avoids being claustrophobic. On the gentler songs, like "Cradle", "Winners" and 'Be Lonely With Me", the singing becomes an interior monologue, just as quiet and just as insistent, repeating the hopeful of discouraging phrases we use to buoy or undermine ourselves.
These simple, unassuming mantras immediately stick in your head, in comfortable dialogue with your convoluted thoughts."
- Rob Horning, Splendid [e-zine]
"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."
- Johnny Loftus, All Music Guide
"A mainstay of the mid-'90s Arlington scene -- yes, there was such a thing -- ex-Egg Rob Christiansen has since covered a lot of ground. He and wife Jeannine Durfee spent two years in Japan, which was obviously an influence on the gently mixed-up sounds made by their band, the Sisterhood of Convoluted Thinkers. The 'Hood is now based in Brooklyn and has expanded to a quartet, although that's not evident from the thin, homemade sound of its third album, "Better Days Coming Now."
"All You Want to Do Is Make Me Cry" offers diluted funk and "You Don't Mind Me" manages a modest equivalent of Stereolab's groove, but most of the album is fragile and ephemeral. The principal timbres are Durfee's soprano, Christiansen's high tenor and a variety of tinny electronic sounds, including Casio beats and modem bleats. The group certainly doesn't seek to overwhelm its listeners. At its best, the Sisterhood's music is pretty, clever and a little coy. Appreciating its low-key charms is -- as Durfee and Christiansen warble on "Bug Light" -- 'like waiting for my ladybug to shine.'"
- Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post
"File (with affection) under: Quirky. The Sisterhood of Convoluted Thinkers, composed of Rob Christiansen (Grenadine, Eggs) and his wife, Jeannine Durfee, undertake their first West Coast tour in support of their third record, the gleeful Teenbeat release Better Days, Coming Now. Sonically, the Sisterhood is sort of like a twee-pop Deerhoof (if that's plausible)--with tangled boy-girl vocals, saccharine melodies, and hopelessly erratic song structures. Coupled live with skits and elaborate theatrics, the band's precious eccentricities couldn't possibly cloud the infectious delight of craft."
- Zac Pennington, The Stranger
August 4, 2003
37 minutes, 52 seconds
Stock 4-panel chipboard CD sleeves silkscreened with blue, yellow, and green ink. Half of the pressing is primarily yellow and blue, and the other half of the copies and primarily yellow and green.
Full-colour printing on uncoated .
yellow, blue, and opaque white ink.
2" x 3" burgundy ink on glossy white paper. Placed on northeast corner, on top of shrinkwrap.
Jeannine Durfee and Rob Christiansen, Brooklyn, New York.
Insert printed by
John Foster, Alexandria, Virginia.
Pressed and packaged by
Bellwether, Bloomington, Indiana.