Album Review // GRAYSCALE ‘Nella Vita’
Embracing life, death, and everything in-between in its purest, unadulterated form, Philadelphia’s Grayscale return as genre saviours with their sophomore effort, Nella Vita.
After the pain and loss that underpinned their debut album, Adornment, Grayscale bring out optimism and hope with their newest release. Translating to “In Life” from Italian, Nella Vita covers the highs and lows of the human existence as it navigates us through various themes ranging from love, sex, drugs, to grief and death. Coming from a real place, it is an authentic record that finds the quintet exposing their soul. At the same time, it heralds a newfound clarity in the band as they push their boundaries, exploring a more vibrant sonic territory. Demonstrating true growth and dedication to their musicianship, Grayscale remind us that life isn’t just one thing; neither are they.
A melodic glow radiates from the very first note of opener Just Right. Bringing more room for the sound to expand on, hook-laden choruses and excellent drum work drive the track forward, setting our hearts racing and feet pacing. Following a narrative of past romance, the warmth of Collin Walsh’s vocals adds to the sentiment, introducing a nostalgic tinge throughout the song.
Life-affirming In Violet is a real game-changer, and certainly one of the most beautiful and polished songs on the record. Whilst the lyrics “I’m stuck here grieving all alone / I’m out of hope, guess that’s the way it goes when you burn dark and slow” may set a grim and melancholic tone initially, a glimmer of hope starts piercing through as the song progresses. Bringing out the light and positivity even in the darkest of times, In Violet is sure to sweep you off your feet with its infectious blend of powerhouse vocals, gritty guitars and a delightful horn section.
With a heavier, drug-related theme, Painkiller Weather sees the band nail the pop-punk formula masterfully, delivering irresistible melodies and singalong choruses that are sure to go down big in a live setting. Contrasting with bright electronics and uplifting rhythms, YOUNG once again tackles a darker subject, this time of mental health and the depression that young people deal with.
Reminiscing on the end of a past relationship and the regret that comes with it, Baby Blue is a delightful tune, built upon a fast-paced soundscape and reflective lyrics that will tug at your heartstrings. Full of passion and arena-size elements, What’s On Your Mind and Desert Queen quickly transform into dance floor-worthy anthems and it won’t be long until you’ll find yourself jumping around trying to keep up with the band’s high-powered energy.
Elsewhere on the album, Asbury creates a more tender moment, charming us with expressive lyricism, impassioned vocals and stripped-back instrumentals, whilst piano-led Tommy’s Song opens yet another wound, as Collin confronts the pain that comes with a death of a loved one.
Chronicling the life experiences of the band, Nella Vita is a very personal record. It provides therapy of sorts, a much-needed catharsis. However, despite that introspective perspective, it also builds a collection of stories that feel very familiar and close to one’s heart. With a lifetime’s worth of memories laid across the record, you are sure to sing, dance, laugh and cry while listening to this album, and there is no doubt that you will find yourself in one of those songs. Taking on a more progressive direction and delving deeper than ever before, Grayscale have released one of the most beautiful albums of 2019, a timeless body of work relatable to all generations.