Write It In The Sky:
Could this be, could this be the best yet from The Umbrellas? Well, when it rains it pours, just like the melodies and harmonies that veritably cascade in waterfalls from this cloud-filled San Francisco sky. Write It In The Sky begins like a lot of the more upbeat crashers on their debut but then brings in a new distorted guitar element to bring a rollicking Veronica Falls-style smash straight into yr life. Backing vocals and disaffected lead vocals criss cross over this adrenalin fuelled twee banger and god don’t we just love it? On the b-side we have the heavier “I’ll Never Understand,” a slow, trippy song with a slightly-delic sound that builds to a noisy crescendo.
Just the best, ain’t they?
The Umbrellas LP:
A future Monorail classic, we’re really excited to partner with Slumberland and The Umbrellas to offer a retail exclusive on the second press of this record. The first pressing on Green vinyl is sold out at source, we have the last handful available, while the Monorail retail exclusive will be with us by Spring 2022. It’ll be worth the wait.
The Umbrellas are a new group from San Francisco who plug straight into the continuum of classic jangle pop groups like they’ve always been there. There’s a effervescent effortlessness to what they do, a breezy timelessness that marks each track out like a gem in the Bay Area sand.
In fact, geography is something that is prescient to only a few aspects of their sound, namely the arpeggiated, single coil jangle guitar work that can be traced back to The Byrds’ innovations on the West Coast in the 60s. Of course, San Francisco is in the middle of a pop rennaisance it seems, with recent favourites The Reds Pinks and Purples and the Cindy/Flowertown nexus taking firm root in our hearts. While The Umbrellas share these groups’ love of harmony and DIY Spirit there’s perhaps more of a leaning on the British wave of C86 pop than those groups. Put simply, The Umbrellas are one of the most faithfully special indie pop groups to have emerged in a long while.
At the heart of The Umbrellas sound is the interplay between two main vocalists Matt Ferrara and Morgan Stanley regaling the mics with heartbreak, lost loves, small moments of beauty, bigger moments of let down. They can crack on at speed, bring it down for glittering tales of sadness, all dressed with cascading treble guitars falling down like glints of light in the dark. Fast opener Lonely feels like a classic among classics, with Ferrara’s fighting through chord changes detailing a failed connection, while following track Near You has a more 60s girl group mid paced feel, with Stanley’s sugared vocal searching for consoling, for a place of safety from the battering winds of emotional turmoil. It’s a sweetness that could be on K records in the late 80s, on Cherry Red in the mid 80s, or in this case where it belongs, on Slumberland on any era.
Autumn has a smattering of Pastels charm with a hint of Paisley Underground. Like the best indie pop, The Umbrellas have a nugget of wide-eyed wonder at their heart, an innocence that yearns for an ideal word that’s forever out of reach. Well, it makes for better songs, so maybe it’s better like that. On Happy, Stanley simply pontificates about the state of her happiness when near, we presume, an unreliable Other before Ferrera takes over with slow, acoustic heartbreaker It’s True. There’s something simple and special when Stanley joins in on harmony, it’s a tested formula, from Velvets to Belle and Sebastian, but it sounds fresh and distinctly Umbrellas.
In fact, while we’re talking about the geography-less-ness of this music, how it belongs to sensitive broken hearts everywhere we could also put in a claim that it owes a lot to the G postcodes of Glasgow. There’s a pop-studded Vaselines throwaway to Galine, a JAMC beat on the toms on Summer before a Strawberry Switchblade simplicity in the chorus.
This is special music no matter where it’s from, rest assured.