• Record Label: Virgin
  • Release Date: Oct 6, 2017
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
Buy On
  1. 85
    He is a rare talent that we must cherish and allow to scratch what ever creative itch he wishes to. With I Tell a Fly, Clementine proves he is indeed an artist of extraordinary ability.
  2. Nov 22, 2017
    80
    Just like all the very best albums, I Tell A Fly is by turns thought provoking, musically challenging and genre defying but perhaps more importantly, it imbues a sense of uniqueness that suggests you can’t imagine anyone else making it.
  3. Oct 5, 2017
    80
    To call I Tell a Fly a difficult listen may be understating it, but within this madcap art-pop song cycle, which is purportedly about two flies in love, are some genuine payoffs for those with the patience to stick with it.
  4. Oct 5, 2017
    80
    By and large though, this challenging, multi-layered record requires complete and sustained immersion to properly appreciate its full range of ideas and textures.
  5. Oct 2, 2017
    80
    I Tell a Fly is far more than any one element though. Clementine creates a wonderful flow between tracks, happy to sink into instrumental sections as he mixes up pace.
  6. Sep 25, 2017
    80
    Enjoy this singular album, this moment, while you can--Clementine won’t be holding his breath.
  7. Uncut
    Sep 22, 2017
    80
    Supremely confident as it is poetically singular, it's evidence that BC's vision will see him through the long haul. [Nov 2017, p.24]
  8. Mojo
    Sep 15, 2017
    80
    Follow Clementine's muse, and the pay-off is huge. [Oct 2017, p.91]
  9. Q Magazine
    Sep 15, 2017
    80
    Anyone expecting an album of unchallenging fodder is in for a shock. Like the voyage faced by its desperate, stateless subjects, I Tell A Fly is no easy ride. [Oct 2017, p.101]
  10. Sep 15, 2017
    80
    Though he’s undoubtedly an anachronistic anomaly whose idiosyncratic style (think Tom Waits meets Edith Piaf in a 19th Century music hall) appears out of kilter with convention, he has, nevertheless, produced an essential soundtrack to our times.
  11. 80
    With its classical and avant-garde stylings and Clementine’s sometimes queasily operatic delivery, I Tell A Fly won’t be to everyone’s taste--which in this era of increasing conformity may be its most valuable asset.
  12. Sep 29, 2017
    60
    It’s not an immediate album, but give a little time for the scattershot approach to sink in and moments of genius gradually reveal themselves.
  13. Sep 28, 2017
    60
    Clementine clearly has things to say about some important topics, and it’s hard not to think they might reach a wider audience if they were a little less obliquely presented. Equally, there’s something laudable about an artist using their initial success not as a foundation for steady commercial growth but as leverage to get something like I Tell a Fly released and promoted by a major label.
  14. Nov 27, 2017
    50
    Hints of regularity are often dropped before being snatched away from you in vaudevillian style. There’s an awful lot to be admired about Clementine’s approach, but it’s certainly not an easy listen.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 21
  2. Negative: 2 out of 21
  1. Oct 7, 2017
    10
    I knew nothing about Benjamin Clementine until i heard him featured on the Gorillaz song Hallelujah Money. The song itself was above averageI knew nothing about Benjamin Clementine until i heard him featured on the Gorillaz song Hallelujah Money. The song itself was above average but Clementine interested me with his spoken word like way of singing and I was optimistically awaiting his next project. I could not guess that his second album would sound anything like it does. From the first track, you want to hear more and are wondering where else could he take the music. Songs like Phantom of the Aleppoville are up there as the best songs of the year and the actual album might as well be the very best. Absolutely incredible. Full Review »
  2. Oct 6, 2017
    10
    This album feels like an eerie, hypnotic, mystical journey as a whole. It´s an open-minder, a true statement for the music we need to listenThis album feels like an eerie, hypnotic, mystical journey as a whole. It´s an open-minder, a true statement for the music we need to listen and needs to be done more often. Luckily for us, Benjamin Clementine has enough confidence and curiosity that allow him to be as whimsical as he wishes to, and only expect us to bare it even for a one-time listen. There´s beauty, unsettlement and glimpses of creative witty all over the place. Phantom of Aleppoville might be one of the best tracks this year. Perfect score. Full Review »
  3. Oct 12, 2017
    10
    This is a track-by-track review
    *Sorry if I couldn’t criticize this one too well, it’s just so revolutionary to me.
    Farewell Sonata-I’m not
    This is a track-by-track review
    *Sorry if I couldn’t criticize this one too well, it’s just so revolutionary to me.
    Farewell Sonata-I’m not even sure if I can properly criticize this one, it’s got a sonically powerful beginning, amazing piano playing, and Farewell Sonata is a great **** title for this song. The last two minutes of it will challenge some people, but I’m used to weird **** so I really like it. (10/10)
    God Save the Jungle-It’s got a fantastic groove, interesting vocals, some nice drum rolls, and it really just took me on a **** journey. Clementine is doing a fantastic job with blending genres within each other. (10/10)
    Better Sorry Than a Safe-This is unlike most things I have heard before. This song rolls along a bumpy piano and extremely dynamic instrumentals that accompany powerful vocals.)(10/10)
    Phantom of Aleppoville-This is probably the most mainstream song so far, and by mainstream I mean accessible. However, this song relies heavily on several instrumental breaks to carry it along until it enters a temporary break of silence… this song intensifies in some of the most subtle and quiet ways possible, and the piano is **** great as always. (10/10)
    Paris Cor Blimey-The song starts off in a frantic manner and curiously slows down, and even goes down a couple of octaves… this is experimental but quite a jazzy listen as it plays with tempo and melody a lot. The tension and pressure as the notes of the piano are hit are in it of itself an amazing musical accomplishment for this one track, let alone the whole album having such masterful playing across all instruments. (10/10)
    Jupiter-The easiest to follow along as it has a conventional drum beat. In fact, it probably is a single for this album. It’s exceptional, that’s all you need to know. (10/10)
    Ode from Joyce-Clementine’s vocals continue to shine through the quiet and subtle instrumental breaks to deliver an intriguing story and utilizes the vocals of other people in innovative ways to end this track. (10/10)
    One Awkward Fish-Drum beats shift up and down in a way that I had to listen to the drums for the entire song one time before I could even critique the vocals, brilliant background vocals as well. (10/10)
    By the Ports of Europe-This almost sounds like a song from a musical (a really good one by the way.) This song is of that much quality that it manages to blend certain jazz tastes with that of the musical scene. Yet another shining example of genre bending and of Clementine’s low-reaching vocals. (10/10)
    Quintessence-I just sat in awe and listened to the piano and Clementine’s vocals take over… because of how rare subtle things like these are over the course of this album, Clementine has created something beautiful with a buildup towards something I didn’t even know I wanted to hear. (10/10)
    Ave Dreamer-Yeah, that’s how this crazy thing should’ve ended… honestly, not much can be said, great vocals, great instrumentals, great concept, that’s all we need to know, lol. (10/10)
    Final Score: 10/10
    This is an amazing listen, but also a challenging listen, so for the casual listener, I warn you to be prepared for the crazy **** that goes on during this album. I also recommend looking at the lyrics and perhaps looking into Clementine’s musical history to further understand where these songs are coming from, because this will at the very least, surprise you.
    Full Review »