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Watch Me Fall


Jay Reatard

Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Infinity Milk  

Memphis is not usually known as being the sort of town to produce English and Antipodian inspired punk pop. However, amongst the cowboy boots, slide guitars and snoozefests of the home of the Memphis Blues lies Jay Reatard. Looking like Andrew W.K's younger, under-nourished brother, before his death in early 2010, Reatard was an underground legend. Playing on average a 100 shows a year, some lasting a mere 10 minutes long, Jay Lindsey (You didn't think Reatard was his real name did you?) was involved in the city's underground punk rock scene for some time working with bands such as The Bad Times, The Final Solutions, and Nervous Patterns. Watch Me Fall is Reatard's second solo release and debut album for legendary indie label Matador Records.

Now for fans of Reatard's previous works and in particular his first solo album Blood Visions, this isn't entirely breaking the mould. Opener It Ain't Gonna save me fizzes along with the same effervescent charm of classic Buzzcocks in full steam. Nothing new there then. The lyrical content is not exactly what you would call a departure either. Reatard's trademark self disgust are on full show. "Since that day, I've never been the same, tired and lonely with no one to blame. In this bedroom is where I sit, cos I don't really give a shit," moans Reatard pre chorus. Existentialism is alive and well. Lacking in eloquence maybe, Morrissey he certainly isn't, but still to the kind of punk pop blast accompanying it, a near perfect example of the Jay Reatard template.

Before I Was Caught has the sort of intro that chugs along like the Who trying to fit in with 77s new crop of upstarts. "Sometimes I have too long to think, and it becomes way too much", he sings and I know the feeling, Jay. Thankfully for us the listener, Jay has channelled this frustration into a bloody good song that, wait for it, has a lovely outcome. Well, an outcome might be a tad presumptuous and lovely isn't really the word I was going for...hmmm, it turns out the protagonist of the song is lamenting the waste of his existence pre incarceration. Should of seen that one coming really. Oh well, it's no biggie, because the song doesn't really have a chorus at all and I like that. The same chuggy Who-like intro doubles as a divider of verses serving up a little treat.

From here however, a problem arises. The main one being Reatard's troubling and slightly embarrassing to these ears, British accents. Too many of the songs early on are spoilt by a horrible, clichéd British punk vocal impressions. Can't Do It Anymore, Faking It, and Man of Steel are all lost to it. In fact, the latter sounds like a Supergrass rarity that didn't make it on to I Should Coco. Oh Dear.

Thankfully there are moments in the second half of the record that make up for this early annoyance. Wounded sounds like a lost Cure single and has some of the best backing vocals heard this year. It is a welcome change of sound. Nothing Now is a slow burning melodrama, that bursts into life half way through. It also produces some of Reatard's best lyrics on the album. "You've had your whole life to think things over, and spent the last year looking over your shoulder" is a simple yet menacing line. There Is No Sun is a great surprise as a closer. More sixties jangle pop than anything Reatard could claim to have produced before and could even go down as his own attempt at a dark anthem to rival Paint it Black. "There is no Sun for Me" is the closing refrain with waves of cello in the backing adding a more grown up touch than we heard earlier.

It's safe to say this album is a mixed bag, equally annoying as it is sublime in places. It does suggest though, particularly in the closing tracks, that Jay Reatard will be a name to remember for years to come. Before his untimely death, you wanted Mr Reatard to keep pushing forward and leave the lame-o Sounds of the Suburbs impressions for others less talented . Remember the Cello.

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