[sic] Magazine

The Umbrellas – “fairweather friend”

I’m only happy when it rains.

San Francisco indie-pop four piece, The Umbrellas follow up their self-titled 2021 debut with second album “fairweather friend”. This new record is chock full of breezy, jangly songs the majority of which are A side material. As a result the latest album feels like a greatest hits compilation by a band you never previously heard. There’s a love of songcraft on display here. The Umbrellas may be indie but the emphasis is on the pop.

I’m immediately put in mind of the late 80s UK scene, of Rough Trade, Sarah Records and early, pre-shoegaze, Creation – of The Wedding Present, Teenage Fanclub and C86. Even the Glasgow Postcard scene. As modern equivalents go Slumberland is the perfect home for The Umbrellas. They may sound twee, DIY or “shambling” (to coin a phrase by John Peel) at times, just like those aforementioned labels and bands. However I get the impression that they care deeply about what they do. There’s no sloppiness or amateurism here. The Umbrellas want to be authentic about their craft. “fairweather friend” encapsulates this. Each cheery tune often masks a deeper, darker meaning. Example – album opener and promotional song Three Cheers is a catchy as hell tune but listen closely to its themes of treachery and betrayal. The Umbrellas sure know who their friends aren’t.

I gather that these guys rock hard in a live setting. They’ve been doing the local circuit a fair bit, tightening up and getting to know each individuals strengths within their group dynamic. Honestly, it shows. Right here on only their second album, it shows.

Four floppy fringes in jumpers these guys are not. Not solely. Sure we could call them ‘twee’. Big deal. Same was said about Bobby Wratten (Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars) and he became one of the UKs great songwriters. These young folk will sure please many an old fogey like myself.

Umbrellas up!