Grayscale – Nella Vita
The Philadelphia quintet return with another dose of emotive pop-punk, while simultaneously seeking sonic pastures new
What worked really well for Grayscale on their last album Adornment was the quintet's capacity to churn out hook-laden singalongs that were equally buoyed by emotive concepts and personal songwriting. Frontman Collin Walsh displayed a real gift for delivering close-to-heart, downbeat stories in a largely juxtaposing, lively fashion.
On Nella Vita, much of that stays the same – Walsh is again a storyteller of sombre reflections, while musically, the band use their genre to create buzzing, busy pop-punk. Yet, the clincher here is that there’s something a bit more expansive on offer: a willingness to make bolder musical jumps and be more sonically experimental.
What were once subtle electronics delicately scattered in the backing, are now pushed bravely to the foreground, right from the toybox drums that welcome Just Right. Baby Blue is a swing-heavy number with clicky guitars that reek of The 1975 (just check out the glitchy bridge) which is no accident, cropping up once again in the driving tones of What’s On Your Mind and the gloss-coated In My Arms. Grayscale have dipped their toes in the shallow end of electronic integration in their previous work, but here it’s so integral, they’re basically snorkelling in the deep end.
Even when they do play it safer on tracks like In Violet and Painkiller Weather – understandably chosen as lead singles due to their sheer catchiness if nothing else – or Twilight (My Heaven), they really pull it off. It’s familiar but still effortlessy good, with the former two up there with the best songs of their catalogue.
Nella Vita takes Adornment’s best qualities and lifts them higher: memorable pop-rock hooks laced with progressive elements, while themes of love, sex, drug abuse and death are brought to life by Walsh’s lyrical narratives alongside some of the strongest songwriting we’ve heard from the group.
Listen to: Just Right, In Violet, Old Friends