A debut offering from Mutual Benefit – a loose collective of musical collaborators surrounding frontman Jordan Lee, with no fixed lineup – Love’s Crushing Diamond nevertheless seems to have a cohesive vision, circling from beginning to end. The record opens with ‘Strong River’, a pastoral swell of strings and bells, like herding a flock of birds down a dramatic hill. The lyrics reflect this idyll, dreaming of an escape in nature. ‘Golden’ is similarly-textured but more electronic, also fleeing the daily grind, not without risk: “I’ve come to quit my job today. We were made to be this way, we were made to be afraid”. Fans of Fleet Foxes and Au should feel at home in these green valleys.
‘Advanced Falconry’ has a clicking rhythm that gives the impression of rolling wheels, a love song: “I know the way she moves, always on the run”. It feels more tightly structured than the opening tracks, sweetly hopeful. ‘The Light That’s Blinding’ is more watery and echoing, and becomes a duet between a female and male voice, a welcome contrast.
‘“Let’s Play”/Statue of a Man’ offers a train-ride narrative, with catchy rhyming lyrics emerging from the playful opening, and a to-and-fro between lone male voice and female chorus, like a prettier Dirty Projectors. This music is nearly as relentless as The Polyphonic Spree’s in its optimism: you have to go with it, and it helps that it’s so fully-realised, like a gorgeous film score. ‘C. L. Rosarian’ ends with what sounds like a full sky of bells ringing, and ‘Strong Swimmer’ is a rhythmic, tranquil ending, returning to the river, which “only knows to carry on”.
Words: Becky Varley–Winter