Grayscale - What We're Missing

Review by Shannon Shumaker

Grayscale’s lyrically charged new album, What We’re Missing is full of nine bittersweet yet beautiful tracks. With a sense of longing coupled with stunning vocal harmonies and upbeat choruses, What We’re Missing is incredibly human and relatable while remaining catchy and fun to listen to.

Opening the album is “Tense,” with gorgeous vocal harmonies and palpable emotion behind the lyrics. “Tense” builds and builds, starting with simple drums, vocals and acoustic guitar until the full band comes in, and then the song transitions from somber clean vocals into emotional, rough yells. The first track, while cut a little bit short, feels like a deep breath before diving into the rest of the album with the line, “I’m waiting for something new.” The second track, “Palette” is the perfect song to really introduce new listeners to Grayscale. This song takes the strong moments of “Tense,” like the full band sound and beautiful vocal harmonies, and adds an upbeat chorus that is bound to get stuck in your head. Like “Tense,” the lyricism is a strong point of “Palette,” with a strong sense of longing in lines like, “I hope he misses you/And listens just like I do.”

Thankfully, What We’re Missing doesn’t stay on just one level, either. Following the two rather haunting and emotional opening tracks are “Midwest” and “Say Something,” which sound bright and hopeful. Like “Tense” and “Palette,” the contrast between the deep and high vocals in these songs is stunning, and it particularly stands out in “Say Something.” The multiple vocal parts, both in the verses and the chorus really make “Say Something” strong. By the time this fourth song comes in, it’s apparent that Grayscale have taken great care in both the songwriting and lyricism on What We’re Missing, so it’s no surprise when the lyrics are a high point on “Say Something,” as well. The line, “I can’t let go/I’m drowning in memories of hope and love,” tells a story of being haunted by the past and being unable to move on, despite the hopeful and upbeat sound of the song, and the contrast between the emotional lyrics and upbeat songwriting is stunning.

What makes What We’re Missing stand out are definitely the emotionally charged vocals and meaningful lyrics, but also Grayscale’s more mellow brand of pop-punk. While What We’re Missing definitely isn’t too poppy or upbeat, it does still have moments that keep it chugging forward, as well as choruses that make you want to sing along. It’s obvious that the band isn’t trying to play by the book with this release, and the result are nine very human sounding songs.

Bringing up the second half of What We’re Missing is “Change,” with beautiful, sweeping guitar work. While “Change” doesn’t have the higher, soaring vocals that seem to make the first few songs really shine, it’s still unsurprisingly beautiful and bittersweet sounding. These sounds of longing may be similar throughout the whole record, but thankfully, it doesn’t get repetitive or boring by any means. The emotion is the real driving force behind the What We're Missing, and while the themes of these songs may all be similar, they each tell a different story, making all nine songs captivating and interesting. The themes on “Bloom,” for instance, are something that many people can relate to, with lines such as, “You promised that/We wouldn’t end up like our parents.” But “Bloom” also stands out because of the strong bass line and slightly darker tone than the rest of the album.  

“Irish Curtains,” the second to last song on What We’re Missing is definitely the emotional high point of the album. The sound of rain pattering on a window brings in the track along with slow and beautiful guitar work, before the strong, emotional line, “If I should die before I wake/I pray that you keep our memory safe.” While the rest of What We’re Missing is definitely emotionally charged and lyrically strong, “Irish Curtains” is one of the darker, more serious songs content-wise. “Suicide won’t fix any of this/Put down the knife and wash your hands,” is a line that, while delivered beautifully and softly, hits very hard just before the song explodes. Though the unclean backing vocals sound just a little out of place compared to the rest of the song, the emotion behind them does fit the song very well, right before it comes to an end just like it opens, with rain on a window.

“August Love” ends things on a high note after “Irish Curtains.” Even as you’re still reeling from the heavy content of the song before it, this track provides a message of hope and moving on. While the end of What We’re Missing isn’t necessarily overly positive, it makes the message of the album realistic, and again, very human. “August Love” leaves listeners longing for more, with the line, “Let’s pretend this isn’t how it ends.”

What We’re Missing isn’t missing anything. From beginning to end, this album is an emotional and realistic journey. Stunning instrumentals and bittersweet vocals will keep listeners captivated, while honest lyricism will touch their hearts. It’s impossible not to feel what the band has gone through while listening to What We’re Missing, which makes this album a total success.

Rating: 5/5

Listen to "Palette" or "Irish Curtains"

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