Grayscale – Nella Vita
Released: September 6th, 2019
Collin Walsh // vocals
Andrew Kyne // guitar
Dallas Molster // guitars/vocals
Nick Veno // drums
Nick Ventimiglia // bass
Philadelphia pop punk quintet Grayscale have been growing in popularity since making their US Warped debut on 2018’s final cross country run last year. Since their first Fearless Records label release, Adornment in 2017, these guys have become known for heartfelt lyrics and lighthearted, catchy pop punk hooks, and I’m so excited to hear what else comes from this band. Nella Vita is their sophomore release on Fearless, is on a different level from their previous work, both lyrically and musically, and celebrates the ups and downs we all go through in our lives.
Much of Nella Vita captures Grayscale’s lighthearted pop punk essence perfectly, but we also see the band venture into more pop avenues for the first time. ‘Just Right’ is a suitable title here, as it’s a fresh take on the band’s sound but it’s still Grayscale. ‘Baby Blue’ is a lighthearted fun track, even more amplified by the poppier beats. This new sound definitely took me by surprise at first, but this song is way too catchy to skip. ‘In Violet’ describes a sad life experience (funerals, the grieving process), yet is given a reason to celebrate one’s passing and is captured so positively by the band’s unique sound. This one feels like it was made for arena singalongs – it’s definitely one of the stronger singles released so far.
Now, I should probably address this here. While Grayscale are first and foremost known as a pop punk band, this release sees them experimenting musically into more pop avenues, in particular 80’s pop and even a hint of rnb. I’m all for bands looking to play with their sound and grow musically, but I’m not completely sold by this venture from the band. The blues-inpired, keys driven ‘YOUNG’ made me feel disconnected from the music because there were just too many different sounds happening throughout this track. ‘In My Arms’ felt out of place on this record because again, the amount of different sounds on this song makes the listener feel disconnected from the very emotion of this song. Or maybe it was just too pop for this album? While ‘What’s On Your Mind’ also hints at major mainstream pop vibes, and it’s a good effort, I’m still not convinced about this direction Grayscale were taking on. Sorry, guys.
In saying that though, there’s still plenty to like and enjoy from Nella Vita. ‘Twilight (My Heaven)’ is your surefire summer tune that features catchy as fuck pop hooks and punchy guitars for even the most hardcore pop/punk fan. Easily the most fun song of the entire record, this is what I love most from Grayscale. What I also love is their ability to nail heartfelt emotional song lyrics about all too relatable topics. ‘Old Friends’ hits nostalgia lane, and shows off vocalist Collin Walsh’s voice brilliantly. Even with the underlying pop beat, ‘Old Friends’ is the perfect line between old and new Grayscale.
The album’s leading single ‘Painkiller Weather’ is one of the best underrated songs in pop/punk this year. While it’s “about loving a girl called Madison who liked to do heroine”, I reckon they just made Madison the most popular girls name in the scene since “Dakota”. The acoustic-guitar driven ‘Asbury’ is a bittersweet heartfelt love song that again shows off the huge potential Grayscale have as a band. I haven’t heard a decent acoustic love ballad in a long time, but this one hits the feels so well.
Grayscale are destined for great things, and ‘Desert Queen’ is the best example of that here. It’s got a fun chorus, and an undeniably catchy beat that fans of All Time Low will fall in love with. The lyrics are a bit generic, and cheesy, but that’s all part of the fun and high energy that this track gives off. I hope they make this tune a single, because it deserves to be heard by all! The beautifully executed piano-driven ‘Tommy’s Song’ finishes off this album on a hint of sadness and grief, which seems to be a recurring theme right through the album. This track does end on an uplifting high though, featuring gospel-inspired choir vocals, backed by the band’s powerful guitar riff in the last bridge of the song. A solid finish to an album.
Nella Vita celebrates the ups and downs we go throughout our lives, and Grayscale have taken sadness and managed to put an uplifting spin on that emotion. They’ve experimented with new sounds and styles, some worked, some not so much. However, what has ultimately stuck throughout this record is the band’s ability to write heartfelt emotional lyrics, and create infectious pop hooks. Grayscale will surely be a band to watch closely within the pop/punk arena over the next few months. Although I did have mixed feelings while listening to Nella Vita, I love these guys and I’m still pretty excited to see where they go from here.
Grayscale – Nella Vita tracklisting:
1. Just Right
2. Baby Blue
3. In Violet
5. Twilight (My Heaven)
6. Old Friends
7. Painkiller Weather
8. What’s On Your Mind
10. Desert Queen
11. In My Arms
12. Tommy’s Song