i

  • Record Label: Nonesuch
  • Release Date: May 4, 2004
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Alternative Press
    100
    Beautifully melodic, quietly clever and painfully smart. [Jul 2004, p.136]
  2. Merritt's lugubrious baritone has never sounded stronger, nor have his songs.
  3. Spin
    83
    Merritt's wordplay has never been slicker. [Jun 2004, p.105]
  4. When the songs are not just clever but lively--most spectacularly on the unrelenting "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend"--Stephin Merritt's demo-ready monotone could pass for a singing voice.
  5. Blender
    80
    At times, i turns dangerously slow and arty.... But for the first time, [Merritt's] lethargic croak also emits a few degrees of human warmth. [May 2004, p.124]
  6. Underpinning this wry melancholy are the winsome languor of Stephin Merritt's voice and the generous stash of tunes.
  7. Similar to Ben Folds and Aimee Mann, Merritt revives the lost art of inventing captivating fictions entwined with personal reflection.
  8. Q Magazine
    80
    A proper treat for aficionados of the laugh-out-loud lyric. [May 2004, p.106]
  9. Many of the witty, lovelorn pop songs here can stand beside any in Merritt's formidable catalogue.
  10. His Cupid's-arrow vignettes reach deep into the fictional dream through heedless genre-bending, ingenious rhyme and incongruous simile, bleary-eyed dislocation and straight-faced melodrama.
  11. As far as songwriting goes, i follows the typical Magnetic Fields album standard of several great songs balanced with a couple unremarkable ones, with the rest being simply really good.
  12. Mojo
    80
    True, [Merritt] still sings in a voice that's subject to fairly strict demarcations of range and malleability, but his deft spadework in the trench of song-craft more than compensates. [May 2004, p.93]
  13. Tracks as smart as the dreamy, melancholy character sketch "Irma" and the lyrical album-closer "It's Only Time" suggest how Merritt can top 69 Love Songs: one song at a time.
  14. The only real problem with i is the sheer volume of excellence we've all come to expect from Merritt.
  15. The marked contrast between the deadpan vocals and the lightness of the music mostly works, although because of the limitations of Merritt's vocal range, he is not always able to project the same depth of feeling detailed in the songs' lyrics.
  16. Granted, the record is far from perfect... Despite all of that, it is a Stephin Merritt record. And SM still maintains his charmingly cynical worldview and almost bottomless well of clever turns of phrase.
  17. Entertainment Weekly
    75
    Sometimes his lyrics are better than his melodies... and too often even his happy songs sound dreary. [7 May 2004, p.84]
  18. Merritt's kitchen produces pop confections that can rot teeth, but the bitter aftertaste owes more to Randy Newman than it does Belle & Sebastian.
  19. The only disappointment is the fact that everything sounds a tad too familiar.
  20. In brevity it betters the 1999 boxed set, in songwriting it plateaus.
  21. Rolling Stone
    70
    I doesn't have all of 69 Love Songs' expansiveness and droll humor, but there's no denying the bittersweet charisma of Merritt's pop craftsmanship. [27 May 2004, p.80]
  22. Finds Merritt and his longtime backing band moving away from pop formalism, slightly toning down the cabaret affectations and focusing a little more on the melodies and hooks rather than the genre-hopping arrangements.
  23. i is a well-crafted work with its share of strong moments, even if its impressive attention to craft holds the listener back from emotional investment.
  24. A record of flippant, tossed-off, uninspired, only sporadically involving chamber pop that feels, dare I say, half-hearted.
  25. Uncut
    40
    A curiously uninvolving affair. [Jun 2004, p.95]

Awards & Rankings

User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. May 1, 2015
    6
    I can appreciate I. Stephen Merrit must laugh with some satisfaction when he sees people talking about this record. Like many Magnetic FieldsI can appreciate I. Stephen Merrit must laugh with some satisfaction when he sees people talking about this record. Like many Magnetic Fields efforts, I is a decent, sometime good record but ultimately one that falls short of true greatness. I is ambitious in its own way, 14 songs revolving around I is always going to be a challenge. Tracks like "I looked all over town", "I thought you were my boyfriend" and "I don't believe you" invoke the spirit of 99 Love Songs - quirky pop with a dollop of eccentric genius on top. Then you have stuff like "Is this what they used to call love". hmmm. Full Review »
  2. alexf
    Jul 25, 2007
    9
    Another great album by Stephin Merritt.
  3. SaraL
    Jan 20, 2006
    10
    Dark, cheerful, and catchy..."I don't really love you anymore" is my favorite.