Despite the high-stakes title of LA singer/songwriter Vince Grant’s debut EP, it doesn’t seem like his depression is always trying to kill him. Sometimes it appears to him as a lover, one with whom he dances and holds onto like an addiction that he describes as a venom in his veins. But Grant’s depression is a cruel lover, and while she may not always be there when he wakes up in the morning, she is always waiting, ready to appear at a moment’s notice to bruise and batter Grant into submission.
Such is the scene set by My Depression is Always Trying to Kill Me’s first single and opening track “Melancholia”, an acoustically driven power ballad in which Grant explains his complicated relationship with his own mental health. But while Grant surrounds himself with lovers and enemies of his art’s own creation, there is a certain sense of isolation to his music. At his most intimate, Grant plays alone with an acoustic guitar, but even when he strikes up the band and turns up the volume it still sounds as if he’s playing to an empty amphitheater, abandoned with no one to sing these songs to. Struggling with depression through music is nothing new, and throughout the course of his EP’s five tracks, Grant channels the tenderness and frailty of such classically bummed out alt-rock songwriters as Kevin Devine, Gary Jules and especially some Ryan Adams circa Love is Hell. The resulting sound is as comfortable as it is familiar, soft acoustic chords and warm guitar tones like a blanket to crawl under when everything seems impossible.
The majority of Grant’s music may be tender, but he knows how to rock out, too. “Melancholia” features a muscular chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Third Eye Blind track, while highlight “How Many Times You” channels the kaleidoscopic wonder of U2 at their most starry-eyed into four minutes of driving post-punk, before Grant allows the song’s more ethereal elements to bring things to a satisfyingly pretty conclusion. The album’s extended closer “Sweet Addiction” takes that beauty and runs with it for an impressive ten minutes, featuring some beautiful instrumental work by collaborating guitarist Doug Grean and an exhausted Grant who sounds as if he could collapse beneath the weight of his depression at any moment.
The ambition of “Sweet Addiction” is matched by the record’s apologetic centerpiece, “Edge of the World”, which effectively captures the feelings of isolation and loneliness that come from having your support system driven away by the erratic behavior and failure to communicate that is often the result of the kind of depression that Grant knows is after his health, happiness and ultimately his life. This sense of feeling alone is something to which anyone with a history of depression can surely relate, but then again, there will always be times when a shoulder to cry on isn’t what you’re looking for. Sometimes you just need a good record that you know will speak to how you’re feeling. For times like that, Vince Grant’s got your back.