20 February 2015 (released)
13 April 2015
There are innumerable rock stars who, for whatever reasons, descended into the oblique depths of addiction and depression without a parachute. Often times, it’s a vicious cycle where the addiction is thought to be a coping mechanism for the condition but only worsens the despair. Many often succumb tragically to this dangerous concoction but, fortunately, Los Angeles rocker Vince Grant isn’t for breaking and he’s fighting back in the way he knows best – by releasing a 5-song EP about his ordeal entitled ‘My Depression Is Always Trying To Kill Me’.
Grant had seemingly been on a bit of a rise that even saw him perform at SXSW before drugs and alcohol took hold. It’s always been said that bad experiences make great music, so kudos to him for managing to get back on track and channelling the negative elements into an album that will now be representative of his authentic voice, understated songwriting and unique style.
The Lead single ‘Melancholia’, whilst addressing Grant’s personal grief, is infused with the brightness of a song meant as a message of hope; one of therapeutic necessity instead of an exercise in self-pity. Building gently with a plucky guitar before swelling into a powerful ballad of wailing electric guitars, lofty lead synths and a catchy, pop hook, ‘Melancholia’ achieves its heartening remit.
Much of the material sounds evocative of bands like REM and Manic Street Preachers – very acoustic, alternative rock with folk sensibilities. ‘Oceans II’ and ‘Edge of the World’, like ‘Melancholia’, use repetitive lyricism whilst being just slightly more enigmatic than the shocking narrative that was ‘Melancholia’. Still, ‘Oceans II’ begins as it means to go on – energetic, with a memorable theme of a chorus that almost says more than words can.
Conversely, ‘Edge of the World’ is slightly slower and returns to Grant’s autographic recipe of building steadily from simple beginnings.
‘How Many Times You’ is a confident and dynamic change. It’s just as rapturous as any other song on the album but it has a post-punk edginess to it and much more electronically influenced making it probably the most modern of all the tracks on offer.
Finally, ‘Sweet Addiction’ sounds like closure to a chapter in Grant’s life that he’s finally managed to get out and gone. Grant’s vocal performance is at its most soulful and least enhanced – Grant attempts to strip everything down, keeping his pop rock sound as classic as possible. Lasting almost 10 minutes, ‘Sweet Addiction’ says a lot with only few words spoken as everything from the mourning lead guitars to the atmospheric tubular bells vent.
More than simply the musicality of the album, it’s about time that a musician openly addressed depression and mental illness in a creative way. Grant has been compared to the likes of Sun Kil Moon and Gary Jules but, other than the minor key signature, I’m reluctant to accuse him of being that dark. Subsequently, ‘My Depression Is Always Trying To Kill Me’ has a pop peppiness but flouts the gimmicks – perfect listening for anyone who needs a timely pick-me-up.