Album Review: Grayscale - 'Nella Vita'
Embracing life for what it is, the sophomore album from Grayscale soundtracks their growth both musically and personally.
Joy, pain, love - all of these are a part of life and instead of shying away from them, they’re aspects we should embrace and Grayscale recognises this in their sophomore album ‘Nella Vita’. It may sound pretentious to describe this album as a reflection of life, yet a listen through will show you that the description isn’t purely hyperbolic music journalism but instead a way of summing up the 12 tracks that form this body of work. This feeling manifests itself not only in the album title, which translates from Italian to ‘In Life’, but in all of the tracks whether it’s the tear-jerking ‘Asbury’ or vibrant ‘Desert Queen’.
Vocalist Collin Walsh explains that the album is “really personal. The music provokes a lot of visuals, because it’s very conversational, real, and romantic. That’s just how I write. The songs are about what you go through in life and real experiences like love, sex, being a teenager, addiction, pain, joy, grief, death, and everything. Life isn’t just one thing; neither is music. We’re a rock band, but we want people to dance, laugh, cry, and have fun.’
And all of those you will do - right from the opening track ‘Just Right’, you’ll feel the energy rush through you as pop tambourines and funky percussion set the rhythmic backbone on which octave vocal harmonies and bright guitars flourish. ‘Baby Blue’ keeps the adrenaline high, as it leans towards a more alt-pop sound with exuberant instrumentals and a catchy melody, and ‘YOUNG’ live out its name by bringing a youthful front with playful xylophone and light keys. Yet despite the seemingly joyful exterior of these tracks, close listening to the lyrics uncovers a mature core that’s more wearied, of someone who has seen the world and has gleaned wisdom from it’s many experiences. It’s here that the genius of Grayscale unveils itself, through their multi-layered music, and ‘In My Arms’ is a stellar example of this as it taps into summer vibes with electronic samples and claps whilst a darker, more turbulent lyricism runs simultaneously as Collin sings ‘make it alright, save me tonight’.
Although the aforementioned tracks lean more towards the pop spectrum of music, the band remains in touch with their roots with tracks like ‘Twilight (My Heaven)’ and ‘Painkiller Weather’ which maintains the urgency of pop-punk and packs in charged riffs and fired-up drums. Not one to leave out the token sad track (or 3 in this case), ‘Old Friends’ doesn’t hide it’s melancholic character and even as Collin sings ‘we can talk it out like old friends’, the suggestion feels more like a formality and facade by virtue of it’s tired vocals, and lacks the conviction to carry out its promise. The bittersweet ‘Asbury’ leaves a nostalgic aftertaste with the line ‘maybe one last time I’ll see you as gold’, and final track ‘Tommy’s Song’ slowly builds to a climax before leaving the remaining embers to dwindle away in distant vocals and a backing choir.
‘Nella Vita’ is not a work that tries to convince you that life is all sunshine, yet it doesn't feel like a weighty reminder of the sorrows either. Despite the melancholic and sometimes painful themes that run through the album, there’s an optimism to take away and strength to be found in this honest and cathartic work that will surely make fans return time and time again to this.
Words by Athena Kam
‘Nella Vita’ set for release 06 September via Fearless Records. Check Grayscale live on these dates below -
17 - BRISTOL Thekla
18 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
20 - BIRMINGHAM Academy 2
21 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
22 - LEEDS Stylus
23 - GLASGOW King Tuts
25 - MANCHESTER Club Academy
26 - SOUTHAMPTON The Loft
28 - HAMBURG Headcrash
29 - LEIPZIG Moritzbastei
31 - MUNICH Feierwerk
01 - COLOGNE Club Volta
02 - BRUSSELS AB Club
03 - EINDHOVEN Dynamo