Despite the fact that his career has only spanned a little more than a decade, Jay Reatard is a musician with piles of releases from his time in bands including The Reatards, The Lost Sounds, and Terror Visions. And while this is actually only Jay Reatard’s (born Jay Lindsey) second solo full-length, following 2006’s Blood Visions, there has been a pretty drastic transition.
Granted, the prolific musician has had piles of 7”s in between the releases to explore his ever-evolving sound, but a comparison of Blood Visions to his latest, Watch Me Fall, shows serious progression. This time around, Reatard has stripped off layers of grit and piles of fuzz to create a collection of poppy garage rockers that could even be described as pretty.
The album pulls no punches from track one, opening with the beautifully constructed “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” a jangly, Buzzcocks-meets-garage-pop tune that builds you up with upbeat hooks while tearing you down with it’s chorus of “All is lost, there is no hope for me” (Listen/Download).
Repeatedly, Reatard crafts perfect upbeat tunes like that, drawing heavily on UK pop punk and new wave influence by bands like Buzzcocks and Squeeze. Tracks like “Man Of Steel” (Listen/Download) and “Can’t Do It Anymore” (Listen/Download) jangle all over the place, drifting from nearly new wave melodies to jangly hooks and fuzzy feedback-laden guitar riffs, and “Wounded” is a perfect pounce on an acoustic guitar with singalong choruses mixed in with a driving drumbeat (Listen/Download). As a whole, there are tons of elements that would seem to be impossible to combine in any coherent way, but Reatard knows what he wants and he makes it work.
Reatard even mixes some psychedelic sounds on tracks like “Nothing Now” (Listen/Download) and the album’s closer “There Is No Sun,” a fuzzed out rocker that feels too positively warm for such a dreary title (Listen/Download).
With Watch Me Fall, Reatard is almost flaunting his recently revealed ability to write powerpop ditties, and the record’s title combined with his short, sweet upbeat tunes seem to invite the listener into a dialogue as to whether this musical evolution will spell the end for Reatard. Fortunately for all of us, though, Reatard’s latest release seems more like an upswing in his musical journey, and not a downfall. Should he continue his musical forays in this direction, I doubt we’ll see him fall any time soon.
Release Date: August 18, 2009