It’s taken perhaps longer than expected for Bristol-based Mouse to make her return, following her well-received debut single 3 Weeks in 2018 and follow-up Escape back around the turn of the year. The Scottish singer-producer has spoken honestly about her struggles to address and overcome physical and mental health problems, having battled Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder and depression.

Mouse’s third single Grow is finally released on 28th August, her first on Leisure Records. She takes up the story of the song’s conception amid her personal difficulties and road to recovery: “My battle with my mental health had lasted for as long as I could remember and I came close to losing it on a few occasions. I was told that full recovery from my conditions was impossible and instead, I’d learn to live with them. I wasn’t convinced that this was true. Grow was written after I left one of my final therapy sessions, in which I felt a sudden euphoria. I told my counsellor it was like I was finally seeing everything in HD.  This song is a celebration of that exact moment and the tenacity it took to get there.”

“Washes of sulky electronica pull [Grow] into much darker corners.”

Whatever may have been expected from Mouse following the undoubtedly well-executed slick pop of her previous singles, the resulting Grow is far from that. The washes of sulky electronica pull the track into much darker corners. A counterpoint to Charli XCX’s spotlight-grabbing pop experimentalism, this is Mouse lurking in the shadows with no less intent, plucking up the courage to charge out and grab the microphone from her. Mouse hints at her new-found bravery immediately within Grow’s arrangement, resisting the stream-era urge to charge in with the big hook, instead tentatively building up to it with drops of synth and an affecting breeze of minor-chord melancholy.

The song’s themes of self-discovery and rebirth play out over a cycle of breakdowns, drops and wrecking-ball choruses that threaten to smash in the windows. “I’m awakened, self-restoration, I am my own salvation and without you, I will grow” protests Mouse with increasing urgency: “Sink or swim comes from within, time to begin”. This is a woman in fully-defiant and purposeful mood.

“Grow is a big, visionary, brooding and highly affecting fuck-you-I’m-still-here in which Mouse delivers at least as much as she promises.”

It’s tempting with any Bristol-based act to look for the lineage of the city in the music, even when it isn’t there, but Grow feels more of a move away from the conventional to the dimensional; there’s no clear peg to hang this on, but Grow is indicative of a threat to steal the spirit of a weighty legacy and impose a new Bristol sound with eyes firmly focused on the future. A remix by lo-fi producer Saaaz is also planned which, with her collection of trippy sketches Aqua currently making its own ripples, is something else to look forward to.

Grow is a big, visionary, brooding and highly affecting fuck-you-I’m-still-here during which Mouse delivers at least as much as she promises. Let’s have more of this please: and a lot of it.

9/10

Grow is released on 28th August 2019 on Leisure Records.

Words: Iain Dalgleish @idalgleishmusic

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