Mr. Mitch

Devout

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Since debuting with a 2010 EP that also launched the remarkable Gobstopper Records, London-based producer Mr. Mitch has been responsible for some of the U.K. grime scene's most spacious, reflective music. While much of the genre is brash, aggressive, and hedonistic, Mitch's music is calmer and slower, as well as more melancholy, having more in common with ambient music and downcast R&B than hip-hop or garage. Following the critical success of his 2014 debut full-length, Parallel Memories, as well as the success of Boxed, the club night and label Mitch runs along with fellow grime visionaries Logos, Slackk, and Oil Gang, he returns to Planet Mu with his second full-length, Devout. While Parallel Memories consisted of heartbroken instrumentals (occasionally incorporating gripping R&B vocal samples), Devout is far more pop-oriented, with many of the album's songs featuring lyrics inspired by Mitch's fatherhood. His children's voices even appear on the album's intro, and final song "Oscar" is clearly sung to them. The album isn't exactly much lighter or happier than its predecessor, however. The dark, brooding "Priority" is graced by a powerful guest verse by P Money, detailing the struggles of adjusting to parenthood and leaving behind one's previous carefree lifestyle. "VPN" features dancehall-influenced vocals by Palmistry, whose pleas articulate the desperation of loving someone from a distance. On "My Life," Mitch expresses his devotion to his family, repeating "it's yours" over drifting layers of electronics that softly flare up. "Pleasure" adds a bit of tension, as vocalist Py conveys her devotion even as it seems like the relationship is running the risk of falling apart. "Our Love" reprises Mitch's lyrics from the intro ("Do you remember when we made our love?") over faster, pounding percussion and distant, faded Mellotron-like tones. "Black Tide" is largely instrumental (there's a bit of muttering underneath), but its teary, whistling melodies and paranoid camera whirrs express a great deal of heartstruck drama. Devout will undoubtedly resonate with former ravers who have now grown up, started families, and face problems dealing with relationships and parenthood (and whose taste in music has drifted closer to introspective pop and R&B rather than dance music). For other listeners, however, the sentiments might fall flat, and the album might be too sparse, sluggish, and sad to really latch onto.

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