By: Megan Arrow
Addison Grace returns, still in the trails of their last release with a new EP - Things That Are Bad For Me. Not only does this record take a darker path in artistic direction when compared to Immaturing, but the thematic content follows suit and discusses some more somber experiences in identity, love, jealousy and the path to self-acceptance.
The first two tracks build a world of their own; emotional neighbors both melodically and lyrically. On "Pretty Girl", Grace explores the complexity of a relationship that while at a skin level feels dreamy, when dissected, has a singular fatal flaw. Swimming vocals and vulnerable acoustic guitars score the realization that no matter how much this person loves him in this moment, they’re not loving him for who he actually is. The instrumentals bring a closing calmness to painful lyrics which detail an acceptance that the longevity of this relationship is compromised. Addison highlights the risks of a partnership like this on their self-preservation in ‘Just wanna soften and let you in my world, speaking of an almost self-destructive tendency to sacrifice their own acceptance for the love of another. The cool colors and lush greenery of the "Pretty Girl" music video work with the track’s equally calm sound to juxtapose the harmful partnership that exists in reality. Although the beauty of a lot of music videos is their ambiguity, an honorable mention must be given to the imagery used by Addison; like the footage of them ‘saving’ a snail from a pink dollhouse. Commenting on this they expressed, “I think art is always up to the viewer to decide what it means, but I will say the underlying queer message was very intentional".
"Valerie" continues this gliding sorrow, taking us into dream pop territory. Reverb guitars are paired with cosmic vocabulary, generating quite the otherworldly feel and echoing Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas. "Valerie" possesses maybe my favorite bridge on the record. It’s a gorgeously structured song that builds tension with the narrative frustrations, before releasing into the chorus and letting us float away into Addison’s world. Lyrically, the song builds a picture from the start, of the anxiety surrounding an admiration from afar with repeated compliments, amidst self-comparisons. The track cleverly mentions the subject’s favorite song being "Heather" by Conan Gray a song of unrequited love and a clear sonic inspiration for the record. Lyrical parallels of wanting to embody the subject are apparent in "Valerie" ‘Hey, Valerie Could I be you?’ And Heather’s ‘I Wish I were Heather’.
"Everybody Seems to Love You" splits the EP right down the middle with a stark tone change from its dream pop-inspired predecessors. Track 3 will take you right back to late 90s/early 2000s pop-punk with elements of All Time Low and Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag, alongside a charged key change on the last chorus. The song is a vocal masterclass from Grace, with a mix of registers and crafted distortion, particularly at the end of the second verse. Track 3 details a person who is almost dangerously attractive and perhaps a known heartbreaker; someone who wouldn’t have the capacity or lifestyle for a relationship that’s anything more than physical. To which Grace states ‘maybe we should just hook up instead, and we don’t have to be friends’. Despite the song deviating from the soulful love and longing of the previous two tracks, it was perhaps the most fun to listen to for me and takes the title of being my favorite on the EP.
The guitars take a back seat in "Out Of Touch", primarily muted, if somewhat distorted in the chorus, to allow for a more mellow instrumental. Lyrically, this track is endlessly intriguing. The pre-chorus details, in my view, the struggle of being an artist. A feeling of disposability or imposter syndrome catalyzed by industry powers and fan bases – ‘better keep the money coming or you’ll never be enough’. Addison also touches on the frequent exploitation and dehumanizing experience among musicians to produce their craft - ‘your tears are worth buying, your pain is enticing them’.
"If Nobody Likes U" presents us with a gentle conclusion to the EP and a lesson in self-love. The track feels like a love letter to Addison’s younger self. Over a gentle strum, Grace reassures himself that he will be fine even if it feels like the world is ending and shows an understanding that these are very real feelings for a teen. He repeats affirmations of ‘you’ll be okay’ and ‘you will be fine’ like a mantra, in the hope to assure himself that despite what the world, or those inhabiting it, may throw his way, he always has himself – both then and now. The accompanying music video is as heartwarming as the lyric, showing Addison’s character befriending a ghost in a very Peter Pan-esque adventure; a known inspiration for the video being Where The Wild Things Are. The pair stroll through fields and chat by a lake while Grace affixes a floral patch to the sheet of the ghost, sharing the natural aesthetics of Pretty Girl’s video. The song closes with a sweet and prideful voicemail to summarise an already soft experience for the listener.
Producing a multitude of singles since 2020 and two EPs this year alone, Addison Grace shows a work ethic that is both inspiring and unwavering. I can only wait in anticipation for what they release next.