Grayscale has been making themselves quite comfortable in the pop punk scene since their debut LP in 2017, so it is only fitting that here in 2021, they decide to take a sharp shift to the left to give the world the Alternative-Pop, Punk album we didn’t know we needed.
Going into listening to this record, personally, I can say that their first track “Without You” had my jaw on the ground. I don’t believe I took a full breath until I listened to the whole song. For one thing, That song alone is a musical masterpiece- well produced, well scored, fantastic lyrics, and the instrumentals are truly everything (that instrumental interlude- we love a good classic moment). BUT, but, this initial track gives the listener so much information about the musical experience they are about to have experiencing the album.
The instrumentation throughout is approached through a softer lens. The tracks come across gentler as a whole. This allows the listener to be almost absorbed into the sound. Not to say that the previous works didn’t have a similar quality, but there is a layered immersive feeling that their orchestration has in this album that is breathtaking and transformative.
There is a clear maturity with this record. The lyrics and the vocal lines for the band have always been progressive, but their approach to how they used their instrumentation on this record felt as if everything has finally locked in.
Bands are always evolving to find the sound that they are feeling in the moment of when they are recording and working on the record, and this is soundscape that I hope Grayscale sticks with for some time. This era for the band will provide not only a spectrum of new listeners, but a variety of opportunities to expand their musicianship and blur the lines of the Pop Punk Genre. As much as I love the Pop Punk era of before, when the evolution is done in this way- I cannot be mad about the result.
I will say there are a few tracks on the album that lose some interest when listening to the record from front to back, which is my only negative from the work. The key tracks- “Without You,” “Dirty Bombs,” and “Motown” are the main event that drive this record.
I am giving this album a 4 out of 5 stars.
*”UMBRA” was released on August 27th, 2021 through Fearless Records*