Pop-punk project Grayscale shows listeners the happy-sad side of life in their third full length record “Nella Vita.” Really leaning into the pop side of the genre, the Philly quintet delivers 39 minutes of nonstop ups and downs. Grayscale gets personal with the audience, discussing drug abuse, heartbreak, and welcoming death. Several steps have been taken from the pop-punk roots of this project, their sound has bloomed into something much deeper and complex. While Grayscale’s art has never been simple, “Nella Vita” takes leaps into dark and it paid off in full. From their freshman release “What We’re Missing” to sophomore album “Adornment” to this junior LP, something has metamorphosed. Grayscale ditched the skate park, pizza pop-punk for a new fresh and funky refinement.
Collin Walsh, the frontman and lead vocalist, does a great job delivering the messages of this work, but vocals take a back seat on this record. “Nella Vita” has instrumentals like no other pop/pop-punk album this year. Layer after layer of guitar, synth, and sound boards give these twelve tracks the power to make hips sway and bodies jump. The second track “Baby Blue” is a prime example of this new sound. Dishing out funky guitar riffs and a snappy chorus “Baby Blue” will make sure the dance floor is crowded. Dallas Molster, who is backing vocalist and rhythm guitarist, gave this record a lot of its experimental sound according to the band. Constantly scrapping and adding new sounds and depth, Molster gave Grayscale a positive push in a foreign direction.
This push is definitely present in tracks “What’s On Your Mind” and “YOUNG.” Two songs that have undeniably dropped the punk aspect in full. Molster and the rest of Grayscale shot for a melancholy pop sound and hit it dead center. Instrumentally, “Nella Vita” may sound like a party, but lyrically it is a total 180. The messages of this work are anything but light-hearted. “They say the saddest people in this world laugh the hardest/Yeah that’s me, smiling it all away so you don’t feel my pain/Now maybe you’ll look back at our good times, pay no mind/I’ll hate myself but brighten your dark days/I sit up every night, get no sleep and pen dreams/Not feeling all this love that surrounds me.” Lyrics from low and slow number six “Old Friends” talk about missing someone who is not here anymore. Whether it be death, moving away, or a falling out, that person is gone and no one understood better than they did.
“‘Nella Vita’ means ‘in life’ in Italian. This record is very truthful, and depicts a lot of things that I’ve experienced throughout my life – especially over the last two years. I feel like you hear those words from your parents or friends quite a lot, like ‘sometimes in life it just goes that way.’ It can be both good and bad, and it’s like you’re learning a lesson in that moment” said Walsh, in Rock Sound’s 255 issue.
New life is the perfect description for this release. “Nella Vita” is about losing, loving, and remembering people, places, and the relationships between them all. Embracing sadness and grief and churning out a fly and crisp sound is the beauty of “Nella Vita.” This piece will swell the dancefloor and the tear ducts altogether.
Favorite Track: “Baby Blue”