Grayscale – Umbra

22 September 2021 / by Shannon Thom
The cover for Grayscale's latest album, Umbra
Album reviews
Grayscale Umbra
Released: August 27, 2021
Label: Fearless Records
Alternative Rock / Pop Punk
Real Friends / Waterparks
Without You, Bad Love, Dirty Bombs

It’s been two years since Philadelphia alt band Grayscale’s last album release, which came two years after their 2017 debut, so new album Umbra is right on schedule. Umbra, their third studio album, is by far Grayscale’s most polished and complete piece of work yet.

While they’ve had a cult following since hitting the scene in 2017 with Adornment, Umbra represents a departure from their pop punk roots and a transition into broader-appeal territory. They’ve channeled a Bleachers-esque sound, incorporating jazz and gospel influences into high-energy pop anthems that feel comfortingly nostalgic. This album feels like Grayscale has finally hit their stride.

Without You‘ opens with a funky guitar line and saxophone of all things – a refreshing choice for a former Warped Tour band. Right away, Grayscale is in the groove. Single ‘Dirty Bombs‘ is another high point which recalls the Grayscale we know and love, with a stadium-ready chorus. Then they hit again again with ‘Bad Love’, frontloading the album with catchy hooks that are next to impossible not to bop to. 

Even when the tempo slows down on tracks like ‘Live Again‘ and ‘Carolina Skies‘, Grayscale maintains their momentum, the quality doesn’t drop. This is a band who thought hard about what came next for them, and crafted an album that represented that forethought. Is Umbra anything earth-shattering new? No – but Umbra shows significant growth and maturity for the band.

While previous albums had lots of great songs, Umbra feels like a fully-realized work. Pair that with the catchy melodies we’ve come to rely on from Grayscale and a few unexpected musical choices, and it’s an impressive step forward for the band