Credibility, I hardly knew ye. It pains me to say goodbye.
No, I'm not losing credibility as a direct result of reviewing Umbrellas. But to put this album into context, I must make a couple of confessions that will ruin different aspects of said credibility.
Confession number one: I watch Grey's Anatomy religiously. (The show is well written - I swear.) Granted, there are things more damaging to street cred than this (like confessing to writing for a baby magazine).
Confession number two: I first learned of Umbrellas while watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy. While I was glued to the television watching one of the trademark melodramatic climaxes (two people were impaled by a pole, and one had to die to let the other live), this inexplicably gripping song came on and caught my ear. The piano and vocals were substantially sappy, but it wasn't quite emo. The sound was polished, but it wasn't blatantly pop. I immediately hit the Internet to discover the architects of this little gem. It turned out to be Umbrellas' lead single, "The City Lights," and shortly after, I got my hands on their album. And there goes my credibility.
Founded by lead singer and Long Beach native Scott Windsor, Umbrellas' lineup is in constant rotation. For their self-titled debut, Windsor brought along members of the band the Hero Factor whom he met in college. With Nathan Price, Chad Copelin and Eric Arndt in the studio to help him out, Windsor crafted this album, which reveals his promise as a singer/songwriter but ultimately proves to be forgettable.
In another world, where "The City Lights" didn't appear on network television, hipsters might appreciate Umbrellas. It's cool, but it doesn't try too hard in doing so. Nor does it try to be overly complex - it's comfortable in its indie-pop skin. The first two tracks, "The City Lights" and "Sleep Well," start things off with a bang. Both are emotional tour-de-forces that still avoid sounding too melodramatic. And despite their slower, melancholic sound, they manage to rock in their own way.
But this is where the album peaks. No song is able to eclipse these two in quality or accessibility. No song is particularly bad, but after awhile they all begin to sound alike. Sure, songs like "Reactionary" or "Comfort in Suffering" add a little diversity with their upbeat sound, but they lack the same impact as the album's opening. But despite the general inconsistency found on Umbrellas, this album serves as a coming-out party for Windsor and his massive potential.
Credibility is a funny thing. In the public world, it can make or break you. A MySpace user summed it up with this comment on Umbrella's page: "I hope you guys get more cred than becoming just a TV [band]." For the sake of hearing future projects, I hope so as well.
"The City Lights" MP3 (Right Click Save As)"The Black Dress" MP3 (Right Click Save As)