Review Summary: If you enjoy a little dejection on your summer evening, why not give Umbrellas a try?
The Umbrellas are a 4 piece pop band from Oklahoma that blend multiple catchy melodic hooks with somewhat depressing lyrics. Scott Windsor takes a page right out of the Ben Gibbard Handbook, guiding the lush sounds with a fragile voice that can range from uneventful to outstanding and memorable, sometimes in the same song. Heartbreak seems to be what Umbrellas are aiming for here on Illuminare
, the band's 2nd offering and a complete step up from their self-titled debut. Tales of loss, friendship, loneliness, and meloncholy are all draped over a sound that is calm and beautiful, providing waves of melody to captivate the listener into a state of bliss. Perhaps this is why Illuminare
succeeds on many levels; the harmony between dark lyricism and serene musicianship along with the fact that the songs themselves are well written makes for a somewhat one-of-a-kind experience.
The album starts out strong enough with lead single "Boston White", a song catchy enough to possess radio stations for months and gentle enough to touch the heart and soul. Windsor's soft vocals immediately invite the listener to sing along, while the spacey guitars rise to the occasion. The chorus takes off for great heights, showcasing what is to come for the rest of the album. While the songwriting isn't anything mindblowing, Illuminare
never feels forced; it's constantly making its point and plays to the strengths of each musician. Each song is relatively made up in the same vein; a witty melodic line followed by soothing vocals: Illuminare
drifts and cools like a mild summer breeze. While bass is present and felt through most of the tracks (especially on the thumping, beautiful "Thinking Of You"), it takes a backseat most of the time to the other instruments.
Another album highlight is "Ships", where Windsor takes off for new, yet undiscovered plateaus. The song starts off much like the others; beginning with a lovely little hook and moving through the verses and chorus with relative ease, it then repeats the already lavish chorus only to crank it to 11. Where Windsor yells for the heavens ''I wish I could sleep" you can't help but to feel it has affirmed Illuminare
as a remarkable listen.
While Umbrellas may never headline a worldwide arena tour or have multiple platinum success, Illuminare
is a beautiful little gem that illuminates love and heartbreak. The songs are catchy and witty while wave after wave of melody grace your ears and won't let go. This is a fabulous album to listen to while driving, hanging out, exercising, you name it. While the songwriting may seem repetitive at times, the musicianship inside the songs are almost always varied and keep things interesting the whole way through. Even with its flaws, the lush textures of Illuminare
are superior to many overproduced albums encumbered with effects to give it sublime balance. If you enjoy a little dejection on your summer evening, why not give Umbrellas a try?