Love’s Crushing Diamond
It is often said “familiarity breeds contempt”. This phrase is most often directed towards people, but it also carries a lot of weight in regard to listening habits with music. With a few exceptions, if a band that does the same thing over and over with every album, they will often lose my ear. Or, if a band comes along and does something similar to what is trending at the time, that familiar trend will cause me to be dismissive of a copycat upstart.
Almost everything on Mutual Benefit’s debut, Love’s Crushing Diamond, is familiar to me. The voice of the primary vocalist, Jordan Lee, is so reminiscent of The Antler’s Peter Silberman, that upon first listen I had to make sure Mutual Benefit wasn’t a side project of Silberman’s. The string arrangements range from extremely delicate in the vein of Damien Rice to containing more punch like those used by Lost in the Trees. There are even some hints of Sufjan Stevens in the collaborative vocals and overall song structures.
Love’s Crushing Diamond is about as familiar as it gets. But there is such a warmth and genuine nature to the album, it would be almost impossible not to love. Mutual Benefit has managed to make an album where I feel like I have heard every song before, but also feel lucky to revisit each and every one. Its the type of familiarity akin to seeing some of your best friends from a previous stage of your life that you haven’t seen in years, and proceeding to pick up right where you left off. It is very fulfilling.
Love’s Crushing Diamond comes in at a tight seven songs and is well under 40 minutes. It is exactly what the ideal debut should be; a concise introduction leaving the listeners wanting more. Even the more abstract intro track consisting of chimes, some loose strings and a little snare drum finished with just a couple lyrics is necessary listening. After the intro, the flow from one track to the next approaches flawless. Where most albums reset you from one song to another, Love’s Crushing Diamond just takes a gentle turn.
“Golden Wake” and “Advanced Falconry” are probably the most accessible tracks for one track listening if you only have time to check out one song. “Advanced Falconry” in particular has the most repeatable song structures on the album, but manages to keep things interesting by constantly switching things up a little bit. Other bands need to take some notes. A little extra banjo here, a little extra use of lilting strings there can go a long long way.
There’s not much more I can say about this album. It offers little in the way of lyrical drama or angst, with its overwhelmingly warm and positive lyrics. Anyone who has issue with Love’s Crushing Diamond will undoubtedly call it “soft” or “slight”. This type of person is likely miserable to be around. Don’t be miserable, listen to Mutual Benefit.
Can’t Miss: “Advanced Falconry”, “C.L. Rosarian”, “Golden Wake”
Can’t Hit: none