Mutual Benefit - Love’s Crushing Diamond

Lands up being Jordan Lee’s finest work by a country mile.

Label: Other Music

Rating:

Jordan Lee’s background - from pop-punk enthusiast to Radiohead fanboy, right up to a stint in an Austin, Texas recording studio - didn’t necessarily lead to a direct path. How he ended up taking the Elliott Smith / Sufjan Stevens route on his new album ‘Love’s Crushing Diamond’ is anyone’s guess, but there are plenty of clues laid out in this record (his first album ‘proper’, in capital letters, following a string of Bandcamp releases). 

It’s an album devoted to a journey; specifically that of Jordan’s big trip. It’s moving trains, sleepy afternoons in the backs of smoke-filled cars, endless days where everything’s uncertain, from tomorrow to the next twelve months. It’s a trip that belongs to its maker, primarily, but the skill of Mutual Benefit’s latest arrives in just how welcoming it is for such a personal record. 

Dragged on from opener ’Strong River’’s sweeping current, this is a record that should come printed with a half-stamped passport and a couple of tickets to some unknown destination. Jordan employs dictaphone recordings (friends laughing, birdsong, the lighting of a match) to allow this journey to become all-inclusive. Everyone’s invited to tackle the record’s big questions, the most prominent being ‘What’s next?’.

‘Love’s Crushing Diamond’ doesn’t strictly provide any answers. It finds beauty in squalid corners, if that’s any solace. Uncertainty - its prevailing theme - doesn’t strictly have to be a bad thing. Instead it embraces loneliness, fear, all those troublesome topics, and nestles them up next to cooing vocals, sprinkling pianos; it’s gorgeousness epitomised.

‘C. L. Rosarian’ is practically the audible equivalent of permanent goosebumps, every split-second shedding a new layer of bright, undying sweetness. It’s often breathtaking, and it’s clearly the product of years of writing, travelling and seeing the best and worst of the world. This is anything but just another Mutual Benefit record. It seals the chapter of Jordan’s late teens, early twenties, and it lands up being his finest work by a country mile.