Jay Reatard - Matador Singles '08 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Jay Reatard

Matador Singles '08 (2008)


I took to collecting 7" singles quite naturally, I suppose, because it reminded me of my boyhood love of collecting comic books. Both are relatively cheap and you can go through them quickly, but for the amount of money and time spent, they have potential to be rather enriching. The songs represented on Jay Reatard's Matador Singles ‘08 are certainly well-suited to the 7" medium, being short, catchy and stupid for the most part. However, considering the relatively short span of time the recording sessions were in, there is a spiritual and sonic kinship among them that gives this compilation an unusually coherent voice.

Like the Ramones before him, Reatard knows that the key to a writing great song isn't packing it full of overblown guitar solos or college-headed allusions or any nonsense like that. The key to writing a great song for Jay Reatard lies in writing concisely -- doing a lot with a little. "See/Saw" is a great example of this, where the rhythm is straightforward and guitar melody simple but the repetition of the lyrics help emphasize the repetitious nature of a conflicted love/hate relationship. Unassuming features like this dot the surface of the album, such as the robotic response of "no, no,no, no" to the calls of "you were my hero" on the injured childhood reflection of "Screaming Hand."

The basic formula of the album stays pretty constant throughout: power-pop riffs supported by acoustic guitar and quirky synth lines with the occasional concession to his garage punk roots. Yet, the snotty naivety of the lyrics provides enough charisma when combined with Reatard's winning hooks to stay fulfilling. When some boundaries are expanded is where you really get to see Reatard's talents, though, such as the psychedelic pop of the paranoid Deerhunter cover "Fluorescent Grey" or the sunny acoustic number "You Were Sleeping."

While this might not be the type of album grows with you or necessarily challenges you as a listener, it is a superb collection of dumb pop songs and I can assure you you'll be humming the melodies for a long time.