Mutual Benefit is primarily a one-man operation. That one man, Jordan Lee, has wandered from Austin, Texas, to Ohio, Boston and Brooklyn, collecting collaborators in the process. He’s also run the Kassette Klub label, and planned to release Love’s Crushing Diamond, his debut recording, as a cassette. Friends decided to lend a hand and release it as a limited edition LP. The music did well online, however, and Other Music Recording gave the well-traveled album a wider release.
The music Lee makes (often with the help of a cast of acquaintances) is uniform in certain respects, but that uniformity makes for a winning overall effect. The tunes are lush, moody soundscapes, engaging and relaxing at the same time. Over those sounds, Lee’s vocals lead the proceedings. His voice is the make or break aspect of Love’s Crushing Diamond. That’s because it’s an unusual voice, high and somewhat nasal. If you don’t immediately resonate with Lee’s timbre, it’s worth giving it a song or two; his sounds grow on you. The combo of indie-flavored songs and pleasant soundscapes makes for a listen that floats the listener along. It’s easy to slip in and out of paying close attention, but the arc of the whole album is a good ride, one that offers a sort of creeping, mild-mannered euphoria.