Amateur Ornithologist – ‘I Told A Lie’ Single Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Following the success of his most recent single ‘Hermit Phase’, Amateur Ornithologist reveals he has an exciting new single in the works.

Set for release on June 17th, ‘I Told A Lie’ beautifully demonstrates how far the soloist has come since his debut back in 2021. The dreamy (yet sometimes nightmarish) track is packed full of lush four-part harmonies, pop sensibilities, and thoughtful lyrics that explore issues of mental health.

Reminiscent of new-wave pioneers such as Talking Heads and Depeche Mode, the track sounds like something plucked straight out of the mid-80s while simultaneously maintaining a certain uniqueness typical to Amateur Ornithologist. ‘I Told A Lie’ is built around chorus-drenched guitars that crawl like spiders over a circular bass riff and hypnotic drum groove, while the middle 8 features a haunted piano riff, backwards drums and sped-up spoken jeers that recreate the anxious inspiration for the song.

Image: Jenny Rohde

Lyrically, the track deals with Trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling) and the pressure to mask that neurodivergent people encounter on a daily basis. The latter of which holds a particular resonance for me. Having dealt with undiagnosed ASD for the majority of my life, the lengths I felt I had to go to to ‘fit in’ with my peers and to avoid complete social isolation (especially in secondary school), were often at the detriment of my mental well-being. Therefore, the fact that such issues are being represented in music is really important to help shine a light on what neurodivergent people have to face in everyday life.

The single is the second this year from Amateur Ornithologist, the musical alter ego of North East artist Daniel Clifford, who has already received critical praise from local music news outlets following the release of Hermit Phase’ in May. Produced by North East producer Harbourmaster (District Attorney), ‘I Told A lie’ is also the soloists first collaboration with sound artist and electronic musician Madeleine Smyth, who contributes an anguished viola in the track’s final sections.

Cover art by Jenny Rohde and Amateur Ornithologist

The only real critique I can think of regarding the track is the lack of dynamics, but something tells me this was intentional in creating an uneasy, trance-like sound. This was an interesting decision on Amateur Ornithologist‘s part, as dynamics are one of the many aspects of a song that will keep listeners interested. Maybe something to consider going forward.

Overall, ‘I Told A Lie’ is a fabulous offering from a promising up-and-coming local artist. I am looking forward to seeing what Amateur Ornithologist has in store for us in the future.

In the meantime, feel free to watch the creative ‘Hermit Phase’ music video below:

Hermit Phase official music video by Amateur Ornithologist

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