The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

REVIEW: Benjamin Clementine – ‘I Tell A Fly’ (Behind / Virgin EMI)

  • 7/10
    - 7/10


The follow-up to his Mercury Prize-winning debut, ‘I Tell A Fly’ is a bold, experimental and largely successful step forward for Benjamin Clementine.

Since the release of the Mercury Prize winning debut album At Least For Now in 2015, Benjamin Clementine has received well-deserved recognition for a striking album that is nothing short of beautiful, with all of its dark piano melodies and gripping vocals. Clementine has even worked himself onto the new album of trip-hop band Gorillaz, featuring in the song ‘Hallelujah Money’. It is now that the now 28-year-old from Edmonton, London has returned with a thought-provoking concept album I Tell A Fly.

At a first glance, listeners are likely to find themselves puzzled, but this is an album well worth persevering with. ‘Farewell Sonata’ intrigues the listener with echoic, haunting vocals guiding us to a gentle piano introduction. This is then completely overtaken by glitching futuristic sounds before crashing into absolute chaos. Theatrical elements are embodied with ‘God Save The Jungle’ resembling something out of a Tim Burton film. It is as powerful as it is extraordinary.

This album is beaming with operatic infusion and a trace of David Bowie. ‘One Awkward Fish’ begins with fast paced drums and an almost robotic twang. A manic rhythm pattern hastens the song, “Who remembers that one awkward fish” Clementine sings with an evocative vocal, and with a song as wonderfully strange as this, no one is likely to forget it again.

Often, I Tell A Fly teases the listener by snapping from one sound to another before you have had chance to make sense of what is going on. The listener should expect to be confused throughout the course of this fascinating record.

‘Phantom Of Aleppoville’ takes a stand with an almost Spanish sounding melody over a stuttering synth sound, before melting into a lovely piano piece. This is then surpassed with a shrieking of sorts in one ear and an aggressive whisper in the other, Clementine’s vocals cut through this effortlessly but do not outshine these incredible dynamics. This ceases with a sauntering vocal drifting into a dreamy piano melody. Of course, in an ostentatious, theatrical style there is more, the latter of this song begins with what sounds like a game-over outro on a video game and with this begins the melancholic tale of “Billy the Bully”.

I Tell A Fly is impressive and full of surprises but is at times a challenging listen, the fluctuating nature of this album is not for those who crave normal structure, this is certainly a record that will keep you on your toes. (7/10) (Rebecca Corbett)

Listen to I Tell A Fly by Benjamin Clementine here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.