The San Francisco bay area has long been an important outpost of the International Pop Underground, from the 90s heyday of The Aislers Set, #Poundsign# and The Fairways to the string of legendary popfests in the early 00s and more recently to a DIY pop resurgence with bands like The Mantles, Flowertown and The Reds, Pinks & Purples. Now we're very happy to welcome into this rich pop tradition The Umbrellas, who, after one well-received tape/single, are sure to dazzle with their new self-titled debut album.
Classic indiepop influences are very much in evidence here, from The Byrds to Orange Juice, The Pastels, Comet Gain and Belle & Sebastian, along with a noticeable garage-pop/Paisley Underground flavor that is a hallmark of San Francisco's best bands. The Umbrellas' area DIY roots run deep, from previous bands to jobs at local record shops and venues to their warm, distinctive home-recorded sound. Brilliantly catchy lead-off single "She Buys Herself Flowers" introduces us to a band that's both intimately conversant with indiepop history but also unburdened by it, a band with the song-crafting chops and spirit to take familiar elements and create for themselves a fresh new sound.
The album goes from strength to strength, studded with pop gems like "Near You," "Lonely" and "Pictures." They're tunes that sound like classics from the first listen, and when taken all together give you the distinct impression of a group of friends who write and play for their own pleasure, with a sense of ease that's readily apparent with every note. Songs like "Summer" and "City Song" are at once heavily evocative of SF but also universal, the work of a terrific young band who have struck on something as timeless and elemental as all great pop.