The instrumental grime scene has acted as a hot bed for producers to splinter off from the norm and evolve their sounds into abstract forms. Slackk is one of them, and the dancefloor mutations from the likes of Mumdance and the Different Circles crew only serve to back this up further. Mr. Mitch is a figurehead of this scene, and he’s one of the artists that have taken their grime roots further from the 140 world and come up with something new in the process. Parallel Memories arrived in 2014, with minimalism and restraint being the defining sounds flowing through its run time. The minimalism remains on Devout. However, the tightly-wound melodies that permeated his debut are traded in for thick synth lines that paint a leather thick coating around the record. New elements are introduced, too. With clipped R&B samples being replaced by a supporting cast of vocalists – some stalwarts of the underground, some slightly lesser names and others personal to the producer himself.
We open up with “Intro”, where Mitch’s vocals intertwine with candid samples of his children. The chords are stripped back, and straight away the concepts of fatherhood are introduced. This continues on “Priority”. As P Money re-routes his usual rib shattering cadences into a heartfelt account of fatherhood, none of his famed intensity is lost. In fact, it’s heightened. We’re used to hearing P spit at hyperspeed flows, but here, he proves his virtuosity by being bold in the tender moments. Proving grime can be a space for sensitive introspection and tell a story at the same time.
“Lost Touch” puts the grime instrumental into reverse. Mitch and Duval Timothy tease us with technicolour melodies and abstract samples, before dispersing a thick smoke ambient smoke that soothes the intensity of the build up. It’s classic Mitch, throwing down a joker card on to the traditional formats of grime music. Devout surfs over the foundations of other genres, with Denai Moore offering a longing vocal on “Fate”. Palmistry makes an appearance on “VPN”, with Mitch’s ice-cold instrumental wrapping around the vocalists vague tales of love and passion. “Pleasure” features Py, who sings in a legato smooth delivery flanked by a misty soundscape and cloudy, pitched down vocal samples.
Mr. Mitch has spoke about his pop influence in the past and in the press for this album. By the time the album comes around to the likes of “Our Love”, “Black Tide” and “Oscar”, his pop sensibilities feel fully realised.. “Our Love” picks up the vocal from the intro track, as driving drums dovetail with deep melodies. It plays out like a producer noodling around the genre constraints, and as you’d expect, the vocals are brimming with simplicity and minimalism. “Black Tide” is punchy and bursts with colour, serving as a nice interlude of sorts between the previous track and the closing piece. “Oscar” plays out like a mid tempo R&B jam, with the vocals favour simplicity once more, dealing with the lead up to new found fatherhood from his perspective.
Devout is a forward step. Rather than clogging his second LP with overstated features, Mitch has slightly altered the base of his sound and developed the process. Whilst his own lyrics come off as slightly green sometimes, they work in the context of the record and don’t feel out of place at anytime. The features are well placed, and the nods to experimentation with a pop sound in the closing stages of the album bring about excitement to how he might take his sound in the coming years. All in all, it’s an excellent follow up to an excellent debut album.