[3 September 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Boston’s Mutual Benefit found break-out success with the smudged, sweet harmonies of Love’s Crushing Diamond. On the heels of that success, the band has reissued 2011’s The Cowboy’s Prayer EP. This set acts as a solid companion piece to Love’s Crushing Diamond and it gives us some insight into the growth of the band’s sound. The bittersweet folk-pop of “Auburn Epitaphs” is blurred on all sides by ambient keyboards. “Passenger” pulls a similar trick, turning acoustic dust into astral glimmer. This five-track EP is generous in sound, and an interesting exploration of sound and space, seen most clearly on moody standout “Backwards Fireworks”. It’s not necessarily a preamble to the record that would follow, but this is the sound of the band at a particular point, displaying a fascination with sound and the moments where pop music and more ethereal textures meet. The song-craft side of things is still in development on The Cowboy’s Prayer EP, but the band’s indelible mood is there in spades, and it can be thrilling.