Grayscale have made quite the splash in the music scene so far, with ripples reaching further outwards as time goes by.
They’ve been on many a sold-out tour and have a very successful merch and clothing line, but their main focus is, of course, the music. So it’s no surprise fans have been greatly looking forward to the Philadelphia alt-rock band’s third full-length record. The album, named Umbra, was produced by Courtney Ballard, who you may know for working with 5SOS and Waterparks.
The quintet comprises of Colin Walsh on lead vocals, Dallas Molster and Andrew Kyne on guitar, Nick Ventimiglia on bass, and Nick Veno on Drums. Right from the get-go, you can tell they’ve poured their whole selves into the album, so it is no surprise that the band wants us to know, “All previous records served as stepping stones accumulating and shaping the band’s course and leading them down an artistic and aesthetic path to this point.” Thus, telling us that “Umbra is more of a feeling than a concept; it is an energy.”
Does it live up to this lofty claim and ascend from just an idea and a creation into something more? Well, the album opens with ‘Without You,’ and it’s quite an introduction. The song has a great vibe to it, and the upbeat nature may come as a surprise. ‘Dirty Bombs’ is the second track, and it is addictive, to say the least. The track may be already familiar to fans who may have even seen the video, a mini-masterpiece that came with the announcement that this very album was on the way…
Lyrically this song encapsulates people’s need for attention from others they do not know, with verses that the band says range from playful to harshly realistic. Although it seems the lesson to be taken from the song is a more optimistic one, we should learn from experience and grow into who we truly are instead of what we want people to think of us.
As we progress through the songs on the surprisingly summery offering, we hear ‘Bad Love,’ “Motown,’ ‘Over Now,’ and ‘Dreamcatcher.’ Each song contains pristinely presented songwriting. This group of talented guys clearly excel at. In the album as a whole, there’s even the odd badass guitar solo amongst some excellent riffs and danceable beats. The progression from one song to another is great, and the album flows if you listen to the tracks in the order the band intended. Other standout songs include ‘Live Again’ and ‘Babylon (Say It To My Face).’
The first of the two, ‘Live Again,’ is a real tear-jerker, and anyone who has had a relative fall seriously ill can relate in some way to what is a genuinely personal song to the band. Particularly to Walsh, who, speaking of the song, said, “Live Again is about my dad getting sick last year and what that chapter was like for him and I. It was a dark time for me.” The band proves that as well as sprinkling the sunshine into their music, they can also express those darker days, lyrically and musically, with the two complementing each other wonderfully.
‘Babylon (Say It To My Face)’ was the last song the band wrote for the album. The song vocalises the frustration we all feel about the types of people who, as Walsh puts it, “speak on the things they shouldn’t and give their uninformed opinions when nobody asked.” Of course, we all know the type of person he’s referencing, those who will say it online but not in person. You can almost feel the grit and the attitude of disdain in Walsh’s voice.
Altogether this album seems quite accurately to fulfill its aforementioned lofty claims. It definitely is an energy, one with range and depth that we have seen bubbling away at the surface of Grayscale, only truly breaking through now within Umbra, which is out today, August 27, via Fearless Records. A great one for fans and new listeners alike; grab this record and put it on if you want an escape and hear some perfect Alt-pop songs. The band is currently on the road as part of the Sad Summer Festival and are also appearing with All Time Low and The Maine on the Side Summer Shows.