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Jay Reatard 

Jay Reatard Matador Singles '08 (Matador)

Wednesday, Nov 5 2008
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Jay Reatard likes to spread himself thin: The high-school dropout has joined upwards of 15 bands in the last decade, all while releasing solo singles, EPs, and other recorded ephemera at a manic, Bob Pollard–worthy clip. A handful of boutique labels tend the kid's impressive discography, dangling ever-replenishing prizes much admired and desired by record collectors. Also like Pollard, Reatard has managed to turn his unwieldy creativity into something buzzworthy, if not quite profitable. Hence the garage-rocker's latest paymaster: Matador Records. Matador Singles '08 (not to be confused with the recent Singles 06-07) collects the half-dozen seven-inchers (adding one new tune—that's 13 tracks total) he's released since April.

Fortunately, Reatard's music doesn't require any more time than the little he has to spare. The filthy scrim of lo-fi fuzz cloaking these pop-punk rave-ups suits them perfectly. Every tinny snare and jangling guitar on "Painted Shut" and "Screaming Hand" is calculated for maximum damage; take these geek-snot anthems out of the garage and they'd overripen in the sun. And though Reatard's tunes may sound recycled from dead songs, every limb is healthy in its own right: Check the heroic lead guitar opening "Always Wanting More" or the bratty synth line circling "You Mean Nothing to Me." There isn't a bad idea in the bunch.

Which isn't to say Matador Singles doesn't sound exactly like his earlier collections. Part of Reatard's charm is his propensity to endlessly repeat himself, to rush through every two-minute stomp just to get to the next one, and the next one, and the next one. Even his subject matter — girls, death, girls — consists of boyhood anxieties that his songwriting seems unable to live without. But hey, Guided by Voices never grew up — why should Reatard?

About The Author

John S.W. MacDonald

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