Grayscale is a pop-punk/alternative rock band out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and if you haven’t heard of them before, you’ll probably be hearing a lot more from them soon. The band formed in 2011 and have released multiple EP’s, but their first full-length comes out February 12th through Anchor Eighty Four Records. I got to have a listen in advance, and I feel pretty lucky I did because the raw emotion in the vocals and the honesty in the lyrics are right up my alley. You can read my review below.
Review by Meredith Szturm.
The first thing I thought of when I started listening to What We’re Missing was that it reminded me of Brand New. The mood and the morose vocals at the beginning of the first track (“Tense”) just had the same feeling that a lot of Brand New’s songs do, and the brutal vocals (“I wanna see the pain on your face….I hope you wake up sad every day”) are heartbreakingly honest. But I got thrown for a loop when the song built up and the vocals go from quiet to emotional yelling. This song is one of the slower songs on the album, but it’s a good introduction because like a lot of Grayscale’s music, it surprised me. It’s unique in that the drums and the down tone guitar set a tone and then it’s completely flipped on it’s head and reminds me of the emotional pop punk that bands like Real Friends and Knuckle Puck have been putting out. I wrote “DAMN” on the paper I was using to take notes for this review.
“Palette” is the second track on the album and it’s about trying to let go of a relationship that you know is ending. It’s got really catchy guitar backing the verses and great lyrics that made me kind of smile because I could completely relate. The song talks about listening to your favorite record “except song five,” because we all know that feeling when you’re just not ready to listen to the song that still hurts. I was tapping my foot the entire time and I love songs with unhappy lyrics and happy music. And again, I love when the vocals get louder.
If you’re a pop punk band from the midwest, you’ve gotta mention that in at least one song. It’s a rule. The third track on What We’re Missing is CALLED “Midwest,” so I’d say that qualifies. The music is bright and bittersweet. This song made me think of driving backroads in the summer time and having one of those break through moments while you sing along to some song. Grayscale just has these pure, stripped down lyrics that really resonate with being young. Some of the best ones in this song were “I’ll miss you sleeping next to me naked,” and “I’ll bury what I know we’re missin,’ and the summer nights we could be livin’ in.”
The vocal harmonies in the fourth track! That’s all I can say about them. “!” “Say Something” is the title of the song, and the whole thing broke my heart. Because it perfectly describes what it feels like to be so fucking in love, and even though you know it’s over you’re trying to hold on because you’d do anything to keep it. And then there is a breakdown with a gorgeous guitar solo, and more harmonies. I wanted to pick a favorite lyric for this one, but I wrote almost all of them on the paper, so I guess you’ll just have to listen for yourself.
“Change” is the fifth track and it stood out from the other songs on the album, because it’s a lot more down tone, vocally. The music is beautiful and actually reminded me a lot of the band Mansions. This song is definitely angsty, with lines like “You bring me down, but I need you.” But it’s not just sad, there’s an anger to it, and a bitterness. It’s powerful.
For the song “Catholic,” I wrote, “Imperfect vocals, but perfect emotion.” And that’s what I love in a song. When the music and the vocals are so honest and you can hear that they came from the band’s hearts. You’ll feel better if you play this in the car and scream along to the line “You fuck it up, just like everything.”
“Bloom” has a fucking nice bass line. It’s really strong and draws you into the track immediately. And I loved the back and forth and the throwback sound during the second verse. This song has some of the catchiest lyrics on the album and this is one I would definitely put on repeat a few times.
Track number eight is “Irish Curtains” and it’s a slow build, which is something that Grayscale proves their really good at throughout this album. The song does mention drug relapse and suicide, so if those bother you, you may want to skip this one, but I loved the track. It really hit me because I can relate to wanting to save someone from themselves and fix their pain. I instantly thought of a few names and faces while I listened to this. The guitar parts are really pretty and when the song breaks down, it’s so powerful. I got the chills.
The last track on the album is called “August Love.” This is one that’ll make you wanna dance. The guitar parts are so catchy and the lyrics are straight out of the pop punk handbook about lost love and watching the sunset on the beach. You can’t help but love this one. And at the end, the last line is sung with no musical backing and it’s raw and intense, and it ends the album with the same pure honesty that Grayscale presents throughout.
Grayscale really surprised me. Having never heard them before, I didn’t know what to expect. They’re unique in the fact that you can’t really categorize them. You can tell that they make the music that they love and they write about things that are close to their heart. There’s passion on every track of this album and you can feel that. What We’re Missing is the heart and guts of the band put to music. You should definitely give it a listen.
What We’re Missing comes out February 12th through Anchor Eighty Four Records, but you can preorder it now here.
Derek Parker- Bass
Andrew Kyne- Guitar
Collin Walsh- Vocals
Dallas Molster- Guitar/Vocals
Nick Veno- Drums