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Album Review: Grayscale’s “What We’re Missing”

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Putting Grayscale into the category of pop-punk seems like a no-brainer. They are prone to showcase the required melodic hooks. The instrumentation often times sounds like that of any number of pop-punk bands. There are the familiar break downs and chord changes that have defined the genre for decades.

To label Grayscale’s album What We’re Missing as just another pop-punk album, though, would be a disservice to the work that was put into the album. Instead, what the listener will experience is pop-punk tinged alt-rock at its best, reminiscent of Brand New’s debut album Your Favorite Weapon. At its best, What We’re Missing shows that Grayscale has the ability to launch themselves further than their pop-punk brethren with raw emotion and instrumentation that stands out from the four-chord patterns one would expect from the field.

The album starts off with an acoustic guitar and thick reverb on “Tense” before dropping into a heavy breakdown that hints at what is to come. Throughout it, Collin Walsh and Dallas Molster’s harmonies perfectly reflect the feeling of a lost relationship and the heartbreak of moving on.

“Palette”, “Midwest”, and “Say Something” follow. The three songs show the band at their poppiest with danceable guitar riffs and the breakdowns that one would expect. The upbeat music distracts from lyrics that opine an exes inability to recognize what would be in their best interest and lost relationships. “Say Something” shows great use of the dual vocalists, playing Walsh and Molster off of each other in a way evocative of the glory days of Mark Hoppus and Tom Delong before internal dischord destroyed Blink 182.

Things take a turn for the more emotional in “Change.” The song begins with prominent melodic guitar picking. “I can see it in your cloudy eyes. You’re desperate and hopeless tonight” paints the picture of vapid relationship before disclosing the crumbling state of the relationship and declaring that the subject of the song should “Give it up. You’re stuck with your words and false hope.” It is a well-orchestrated song showcasing the bands talents in a softer and more melodic way.

From there, the album returns back to its rock roots in “Catholic” and “Bloom”. These tracks show the band reminiscing through the eyes of someone who is separated from the hypocrisy and lies such as promising a loved one that they would not “end up like their parents”. “Bloom” does a fantastic job in particular, showcasing a very creative bass line before building back into distorted guitars. The track shows the band playing with dynamics in a way that sets them apart from many of their peers.

The highlight of the album is “Irish Curtains”. It stands in stark contrast to the rest of the album, beginning with the sound of rainfall and slow deliberate guitar picking. The lyrics seem to show the band at its most open, singing to someone who has let their life get out of hand and wishing they could do something to help save the person, declaring “I want to fix what your father did…. Suicide won’t fix any of this. Put down the knife and wash your hands” The guitars eventually swell into a shrill crescendo before hitting the heaviest moment of the album complete with beleaguered screaming vocals alongside the previous soft vocals, all before fading back into the rain that began the track.

Ending the album with an upbeat rocker in “August Love” seems like a necessary escape from “Irish Curtains,” and wraps things up with the acapella refrain “I’ll never be what you want.”

There is a little bit of everything from Grayscale on What We’re Missing. It shows a band ready to stand out amongst the crowd of alternative bands and gives fans a lot to hope for in the future for the band. It may be labelled as pop-punk, but it is really much more.

What We’re Missing will be released February 12 and is available for preorder now.

Written by Nathan Badley

When Nathan is not writing about music, he might be writing material for his often neglected blog at nathanbadley.com. Or he might be writing something else. Or podcasting. Or playing music. Most likely he is just watching TV thinking about how he should be doing those things. You can tweet him @badlandsbadley and congratulate him on his mad 3rd person writing skills.

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