San Francisco four piece The Umbrellas have today announced details of their second album, ‘Fairweather Friend’, out 26th January via Tough Love, and have released a video for the lead single, ‘Three Cheers!’.
The Umbrellas are four renegade romantics crafting irresistible indie pop hymns. The band’s self-titled 2021 debut album became a breakout moment, winning critical praise and sparking an international tour. Follow-up LP ‘Fairweather Friend’ goes a step further – absorbing the sonic attack of their live shows, it balances this with studio finesse, allowing the San Francisco four-piece to become the band they’ve always aspired to be.
It’s a record overflowing with highlights and today they kick off proceedings with the candyfloss melodies of introductory track “Three Cheers!”, where the peppy, sun-soaked rush masks a barbed lyric, courtesy of Nick Oka. “It’s a pseudo-political song about power struggles that occur in a job situation, or a friend group. It’s an observational song.”
A lean 10 track affair, ‘Fairweather Friend’ grasps towards beatific pop while fuelled by a sense of risk, and the precision that comes from long months on the road.
The Umbrellas coalesced around a group of musicians who would frequent legendary San Francisco record emporium Amoeba Music. Singer and guitarist Matt Ferrera links with bassist Nick Oka, while Keith Frerichs is the powerhouse drummer. A chance encounter with Morgan Stanley singing karaoke at a Fourth of July party cemented the line-up around an avowed thirst for melody. “All of us love really earnest pop songs,” Nick points out. “I guess we got to a point in our lives where we wanted to be genuine.”
Playing shows at San Francisco’s vital DIY redoubt Hit Gallery, The Umbrellas would share line-ups with local heroes such as April Magazine and Cindy. Recording their debut album across a two-day spell at Matt’s parents’ house, the results won a devoted cult following. Yet the experience of touring bonded them tightly and allowed the volume to tick up a little higher, and higher, and higher. “I think we got tired of people saying, oh you’re so much louder than I thought you’d be!” laughs Matt. “Our early recordings are sweet and earnest… and we wanted it to be louder.”
Kicking off sessions in November 2022, the band used an ad hoc space Matt created in his basement, working across a four-month period. Sessions were a little more relaxed in terms of timescale than their debut, but The Umbrellas were incredibly focussed on the project. “We gave ourselves more space for this album,” says Keith. “We wanted time to sit on the songs, and really work on them.”
Allowing their live dynamic to bleed out on tape, The Umbrellas are at once more physical and yet also more controlled on their new album.
Taken as a whole ‘Fairweather Friend’ is a bold indie pop triumph, crafted with purpose and attention. Taking their time over each note, the four-piece have strengthened their song-writing, adding depth and assurance while unlocking their potential. Some bonds last a lifetime – The Umbrellas are ready to capture your heart.
1. Three Cheers – video
3. Toe the Line
5. Say What You Mean
8. When You Find Out