Release Date: August 27, 2021 Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Punk, Pop Rock
Label: Fearless Records
Ten years ago, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Grayscale, broke into the pop-punk scene. However, Grayscale didn't garner many eyes their way until their spectacular eye-catching EP, Change (2015), and have been on a steady rise to the top ever since its release. The band is back with their third album, Umbra, which follows the band's massive debut album, Adornment (2017) and their impressive second album, Nella Vita (2019). On their previous album Nella Vita, Grayscale drove themselves away from their pop-punk roots with some alternative rock and pop elements incorporated into its songwriting, which has lead Grayscale to unimaginable limits with their music and led their path on Umbra.
Grayscale is a rising force in the alternative rock/pop-punk scene and is made up of vocalist Collin Walsh, guitarists Andrew Kyne and Dallas Molster, bassist Nick Ventimiglia, and drummer Nick Veno. To this date, Grayscale has accumulated well over fifty million streams on Spotify alone, has received plenty of praise from media outlets, notably Forbes, Alternative Press, and Billboard. In addition to all their accomplishments to date, for Umbra, the quintet tapped producer Courtney Ballard (The Color Morale, 5 Seconds of Summer, Waterparks, Stand Atlantic, Super Whatevr) to produce the album.
Umbra opens with "Without You," a stellar song that puts the band's songwriting maturity on full display. The band's got a nostalgic '80s pop-rock/alternative rock sound, but it has a certain modern feel. By blending the sounds of their last two albums, Grayscale drives themselves forward creatively with a bold, exciting fresh sound. "Without You" is an exhilarating album opener that has a dancey-pop influence. The opening track excitingly incorporates the use of saxophones, trumpets, and whatever other wind/brass instruments are performed on the song. Following is the band's lead single, "Dirty Bombs." It feels more like a classic Grayscale song and touches on the constant need most people have to seek attention and gain approval from strangers. On the musical side of the single, it features out of the most infectious, powerful vocal performances from Walsh.
Another group of musicians that are continuing what I've now dubbed "The Year of the Pop-Punk Saxophone," Grayscale throws in a thrilling saxophone solo on the fourth track, "Motown." Whereas the band takes things down a notch with their irresistible tracks "Over Now," "Dreamcatcher," and "Live Again." The latter of the three is a powerful and personal track about Walsh's father getting sick this past year and shares what that chapter was like for the two. As the track builds, a large numbered choir begins to sing behind Walsh's voice, and it pulls the entire weight of the track's meaning to the surface. This moment also pulls the pure emotion of the song to the forefront and may have your eyes welting with tears. While the following track, "Carolina Skies," is a more enlightening track about wanting to live your life to its fullest with your significant other. In contrast, it's essentially a follow-up track to "Live Again" to live life like each day is your last.
"King of Everything" provides a sense of dread with its atmospheric instruments -mainly the electric and string instruments in the song's background. On the second last track and most recent single on Umbra, "Babylon (Say It To My Face)," Grayscale touches on the type of people who speak on things they shouldn't. When these people give their uninformed opinions to you when nobody asked for them. It's also regarding the same type of people who are just being cowards and saying it only on the internet, which explains the lyrics, "Come say it to my face." Grayscale's third album closes out with the stripped-down number, "Cigarette." It's one of the shortest tracks on the entire album and features just the simple piano stylings behind Walsh's powerful voice.
Umbra is a force forward for Grayscale. The quintet has matured their songwriting with each effort they've released over the past ten years. Now their third album, the band takes the sounds you hear on Adornment and Nella Vita with a stronger push into pop -and includes some jazz influences- by blending it all into one insatiable sound. Umbra gives you a little tad of everything, however. Grayscale has written their biggest album to date, giving you pop-rock, alternative rock, and their roots in pop-punk remains in the spine of these eleven tracks. Be sure to catch the band on the remaining dates of Sad Summer Fest or their forthcoming headline tour later this fall with Young Culture, Cemetery Sun, and Girlfriends. You can grab Umbra physically on CD or vinyl or pre-save the album before its release this Friday.