- 16 Oct 17
Highly experimental sophomore album from 2015 Mercury Winner.
When your debut album is the surprise winner of the most prestigious music industry award in the UK, how do you follow it up? That was the question singer-songwriter Benjamin Clementine faced when At Least For Now won the Mercury Prize in 2015. The 28-year-old Londoner has answered it, tongue firmly in cheek presumably, with I Tell A Fly – an avant garde concept album about two romantically entangled flies, set against a backdrop of a world in turmoil (specifically referencing Syria and the refugee crisis). Commercialism be damned! His record company must love him…
In one sense, you have to admire his chutzpah. Clementine was “discovered” when he was living rough on the streets of Paris and busking on the Metro for a crust. An album as wildly experimental as this could quite easily put him right back there. The suspicion is that he simply doesn’t care.
So kudos and full marks for artistic ambition and integrity, but it would have been nice if these songs were a little more consistent and easy on the ear. This is a surreal musical journey that segues from minimalist piano to vaudevillian camp to overdone pomp rock with several stops in between. Clementine delivers his vocals with overdone theatrical relish, often changing accent as he sings. This occasionally becomes annoying.