Philadelphia’s Grayscale have already proven that they can craft pop-rock songs effortlessly, as showcased on 2017’s ‘Adornment’.
But, by taking on a wider range of influences and casting a bittersweet lens over multiple facets of life, ‘Nella Vita’ serves as a full-length follow-up that doesn’t disappoint.
Opening with the dream pop influenced ‘Just Right’, lush keys, and delicate finger-picking create a duality amongst its high energy chorus – one that’s filled with crashing cymbals and stabbing chords. Navigating the swirling ebb and flow of the track, vocalist Colin Walsh glides between delicate verses and energetic choruses, creating a smooth transition between the jarring sections.
Expanding upon their blueprint, ‘Baby Blue’ follows with some disco influenced staccato chords, courtesy of Dallas Molster and Andrew Kyne. Showcasing their adaptability, both guitarists weave through splash of synthesisers before launching into a restrained yet effective solo. The bridge also highlights the compositional nuances littered throughout the record, as palm-muted guitar rhythms feed off synthesisers without losing momentum.
The group may have solidified their sound on ‘Adornment’, but as tracks like ‘Young’ and ‘Old Friends’ can testify, Grayscale have refined and pushed themselves further. From the bouncing keys on the former to the multi-layered vocal coda of the latter, each moves around multiple techniques effortlessly.
As the record reaches its midway point, various influences creep in to each cut, from the crunching punk rock of ‘Twilight’ to the new wave soaked ‘What’s On Your Mind’, the record becomes more and more eclectic.
Regardless of what flavour is injected to each track, the band’s songwriting skills shine through. This is shown on ‘Painkiller Weather’, a number that not only highlights their strengths, but also embodies the overarching theme of the record. With Nick Veno‘s swinging drum beat and Colin Walsh‘s bright inflections, the sweet melodies camouflage lyrics such as “I loved a girl named Madison / And she liked to do heroin.”
As the record opened with the slow burning ‘Just Right’, it seems fitting that the sprawling ‘Tommy’s Song’ ends it. Melding restrained piano melodies, densely layered vocal harmonies, and attacking guitars, the track pushes the group into the next chapter of their musical journey.
Densely layered and a lush step forward, ‘Nella Vita’ helps Grayscale stand out from their crowd of peers, and pushes the band into the next chapter of their journey.