Grayscale is a band that’s been on my radar for the past year. Being from around Philadelphia, there’s been a bit of a buzz around these guys in this area. They’ve proven themselves on a few EP releases (my favorite of them being Changes), and are getting ready to release their debut LP entitled What We’re Missing. Do we have a needle in a haystack of an album that stands out amidst the extremely over-saturated pop-punk realm, or is this record going to pale in comparison to its contemporaries? Well, if I told you now, there wouldn’t be much use for a review, so here we go.

In the opening seconds of the album, it’s hard not to notice the great production value on this thing. The beautiful, layered guitars provide a great texture, the drums are full-sounding, and you can actually hear the bass! The mix is well-done also, as no instruments over-power others, and both vocalists share the spotlight throughout the record. “Tense” is a solid opener, the simplistic and memorable drum beat and arpeggiated chord progression build up into a much heavier and upbeat passage, warming you up to what’s to come.

I remember seeing the music video for the second song and lead single “Palette” a few months ago and really thought these guys were sitting on something great. I remember commenting on the video that I was looking forward to the album and that I hope that this record blows them up. Now after listening to the whole thing, “Palette” sticks out without being the only great song on the album-far from it. The chorus is one of the most infectious on the record and will have you bobbing your head no matter how cool you think you are. My only problem with this song (which is a problem I had with a few other songs as well) is how sometimes the lyrics are a bit melodramatic for my taste. Now, I have to give credit to these guys for not being afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves-but I remember laughing out loud when I heard the line “I’m still listening to our Menzingers record, except for song 5 off of it.” But what do I know-there’ll probably be a gif of these lyrics with a live crowd shot trending on Tumblr within a few months.

Looking back through the song order after listening to this record a few times, there really aren’t any duds. Sure, there’s only 9 songs and to some people that’s too short, but for me it’s the perfect amount of time for music like this. That said, I’m not going to go through each song and talk about the intricacies of every minute on this record. But, standout tracks are definitely the re-recorded “Changes,” the unfairly catchy yet somber “Say Something,” and the most emotionally potent song on the record, “Irish Curtains.” From the rain sample, to the lyrics “put down the knife and wash your hands/suicide won’t fix any of this,” to the incredible dynamics on this song, it’s certainly going to leave some welling up. The build-up with intense feedback into a post-hardcore feel for the last chorus really put a definite ending to the song. Honestly, I wished that this was the last song on the record. To me, “August Love” diminishes the impact of “Irish Curtains,” starting off with a major-key riff and a much more energetic feel. Perhaps the band wanted to end the album on a more positive note-and I’m not discrediting the song at all-but for me, I wish it would’ve gone somewhere else on the album.

Overall, Grayscale have given a great first album. The performances given are great throughout, and the band really left it all out there, which you can really hear in the vocals at points. The production value is very high, and the amount of work put into this album is clear.

This is one of the more intricate albums arrangement-wise that the pop-punk spectrum has seen in a while, and it lends itself to more listens than you’d typically give a pop-punk record. If you’re into pop-punk, alternative rock, emo, or all of the above, definitely do yourself a favor and check out Grayscale’s debut LP What We’re Missing.