September 3, 2019 Grayscale – Nella Vita (Album Review)
The Philadelphia quintet, Grayscale are back with one of the most eloquent and honest representations of the band yet with their second full-length album – Nella Vita. Set to be released on September 6th under Fearless Records, their sophomore album plays like a diary of your most heartfelt and sincere memories to plague your adolescence. From backseat post-coital promises between lovers, addiction, and celebrating life before death, each track is like a personal letter or proclamation among close friends that Grayscale have so graciously decided to share with us all.
Grayscale – Collin Walsh (vocals), Dallas Molster (guitar, vocals), Andrew Kyne (guitar), Nick Ventimiglia (bass), and Nick Veno (drums) – manage to align nostalgic confessions while delivering ’90s-infused Alternative Rock wrapped in a modern-day package. It is gut-punching, pensive, cathartic, and danceable all at once. You never experience the same emotion twice, each playthrough evokes a new myriad of feelings, ensuring a new experience with each listen.
“It’s really personal,” explains Walsh. “The music provokes a lot of visuals, because it’s very conversational, real, and romantic. That’s just how I write. The songs are very transparent stories that cover the full spectrum of feelings you experience in life; true reflections of things like love, sex, being a teenager, addition, pain, joy, grief, death, and everything in-between. We wanted to musically and lyrically approach these experiences from an honest place. We want you to dance, laugh, cry, and have fun. We want you to feel it all.”
From the very beginning, the opening track “Just Right” hits you in the face with nostalgia-ridden lyrics with a punchy beat to match. This track perfectly sets the tone for the album, spilling details of young love, backseat confessions, and the emotions that come with it. Things do not slow-down from there as we go into “Baby Blue.” It’s upbeat Dance-infused riffs are the backdrop for a love that’s come to a halt. “We were thick as thieves until you fell out of love, I don’t think I love you still but now I’m not sure, Don’t feel much anymore.” This track provides funky-rhythmic backdrop for a lyrical heartbreak.
Speaking of upbeat tracks with dark lyrical undertones, “In Violet” is the perfect depiction of just that. It takes all of the morbidity surrounding death and turns it on its head in favor for celebrating life instead; trading in the drab, all-black affair for one that’s uplifting and grand. Walsh explained, “When I die, I don’t want it to be a miserable funeral where everybody doesn’t fucking talk. I want you to celebrate, sing, laugh, and dress in violet. I want my life to be celebrated, not for my death to be mourned; there’s already too much sadness in this world.”
The boisterous and lively, “YOUNG” is a generational anthem, touting an inspirational “battle cry” about not wasting your youth and being better than before. “Twilight (My Heaven)” keeps the momentum going with its infectious hook and repetitive chorus. It’s bound to get stuck in your head long after the album stops. Then there is “Old Friends” where things take a step back. The dusty guitars and somber melody share feelings of grief surrounding the death of Walsh’s cousin who took his own life. The emotion is downright palpable with each line, declaring, “No one knows the pain like you did. I wish we could talk about it like old friends.”
The track that announced the creation of their second album was “Painkiller Weather.” This track flawlessly encapsulates the overall vibe and vision of the album. The song details the struggle of loving someone through their addiction. It touches on the harsh reality of addiction and realizing that you’re never going to be enough to save them. A sunny, ’90s beat plays, offsetting the dark, engaging lyrics like “I loved a girl named Madison, And she liked to do heroin, Pull the shades, let the sunshine in, She doesn’t know what room she’s in.”
“What’s On Your Mind” is a killer dance hit. It opens with a funky staccato, reminiscent of early ’90s Pop, before kicking in with dreamy riffs. The heartfelt “Asbury” is the quintessential love song. Its soft, acoustic riffs lull you into a sickly-sweet daydream full of tender thoughts of the one you love. “Desert Queen” sets a fire in your heart and under your feet as it picks things back up. It’s an undeniable nod to the Pop-Punk sound of their debut album Adornment. It’s irresistibly catchy with high-energy that would be a standout addition to their set list. “In My Arms” is a blatant display of the band’s versatility. It’s heavy Alt-Pop melodies, fused with a funky synth make this song sound like a total blast from the past.
Closing out the album is the emotionally charged, “Tommy’s Song.” This track is dedicated to Walsh’s cousin, the inspiration behind the aforementioned “Old Friends.” It’s a powerful eulogy, encapsulated by stirring pianos and a full choir. “We spent a lot of time on that one,” said Molster. “We had a full team to make it happen with the choir and the harmonies. The lyrics are gut-wrenching, so we really pushed the music to elicit the same response.”
This record is light-years ahead of its predecessor, as it exemplifies Grayscale’s true musicality and versatility as artists. It solidifies their spot in the scene, proving why they are a band that is here to stay and that we are guaranteed to see them continue to evolve. It is timeless in that it releases fragments of the past into your psyche, while possessing the ability to be prevalent for years to come. For all these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Nella Vita 5 out of 5 stars.