ARTIST Mutual Benefit
ALBUM Love’s Crushing Diamond
LABEL Soft Eyes
RELEASE DATE 7 October 2013
8.7 | 10
Jordan Lee must have never gotten the memo. Doesn’t he know that, in the year 2013, indie music’s main calling card is the downtempo R&B and electro pop made popular by the likes of Frank Ocean, Miguel, Grimes, and Jessie Ware? Lee, recording music as Mutual Benefit, ignores the general tropes of today’s indie music by delivering a set of timeless folk pop that triumphs, rather than falters, courtesy of its unapologetically saccharine demeanor.
Love’s Crushing Diamond, Mutual Benefit’s proper debut LP, could easily be derided for its unbridled optimism if Lee wasn’t such a strong communicator of such feelings. “Advanced Falconry,” the album’s stunning lead single, is without question the year’s best love song, and Lee’s delicate falsetto perfectly captures the feelings his words attempt to convey. The fleeting feelings of love at first sight are highlighted by Lee’s lyrics, as he sings during the chorus, “And she talks softly / Sees through me / Says something / I can’t hear it / but I won’t forget / the way she flies.” It’s hardly permanent, but in a way, that makes its presence that much more appreciated. The most impressive aspect of Diamond is the album’s fluidity, never once finding itself bogged down by its sentimentality. “That Light That’s Blinding” beautifully flows in as soon as “Falconry” dissipates, making for a seamless transition.
The album plays like a long, therapeutic breath of fresh air, with each song unspooling itself methodically and gracefully. “‘Let’s Play’ / Statue of a Man” is the closest Lee comes to a pop hit this side of “Falconry,” and it’s glorious male-female harmonies is a major reason for its success.
The closing “Strong Swimmer” is sonically perhaps the most accomplished song on the album. It’s impressive mix of different musical sounds, whether it be chimes, electronics, or violin, each sound has so much flavor that it would be impossible to imagine the song without any of it. The cacophony leads to a creeping climax that wonderfully stamps this collection with Lee’s signature.