Album review for 'Matador Singles '08' by Jay Reatard released through Matador records.
If it wasn't for the fact Jay Reatard has been around on the peripheries of many a music scene for the last decade or more, you'd be hard pressed not to accuse him of being one of 2008's most hyped newcomers. Certainly in the context of commercial packaging he is something of an anomaly. Having worked his way through the US alternative underground via various bands and incarnations (most notably of course with The Reatards) his rise to prominence seems to have been cemented due to a succession of lo-fi seven inches that were nigh on impossible to get hold of, therefore accrediting Reatard with legendary-like status well before most people had actually heard any of his work. Those singles were subsequently compiled and released earlier this year as Reatard's second album ('Singles 06-07') and all of a sudden those labels of high regard didn't seem so empty and vacuous after all.
As a result, renowned indie Matador signed him up and true to form, Reatard set about releasing another half-dozen singles this year, all pretty low-key, and all of which sold out either on the day of release or shortly after. Naturally, amid all the furore created in the music press, not to mention his excitably chaotic live show, demand far exceeded the initial supply so Matador have obviously followed the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.." mantra and decided to release a Jay Reatard compilation of their own, 'Matador Singles '08' - what else?
What's quite striking about the thirteen songs on this record are that all of them sound like they were recorded in one take, at no point take themselves overly seriously and (the original compositions at least) didn't require any thesaurus studied dictionary swallowing to conjure up such excitable lyrical bile as "You're such a useless bore and you're always wanting more." ('Always Wanting More') while ultimately never outstaying their welcome at any point.
Imagine if The Ramones had been conceived a decade or so later and been brought up on a diet of The Jesus And Mary Chain and The Replacements rather than Spector and the Stooges; 'See/Saw' is eerily reminiscent of early 90s late and lamented glam scrappers Birdland while 'Dead On Arrival' sounds like Helen Love's more sinister uncle from the other side of the Atlantic.
Most intriguing though is Reatard's take on Deerhunter staple 'Fluorescent Grey', turning the original's epic soundscape into a psychotic drawl that would fit quite happily onto a Pebbles garage rock compilation if they were still making them in the 21st Century.
All in all, 'Matador Singles 08' is a timely introduction to those still not quite familiar with the talents of Jay Reatard that should guarantee his longevity for at least another half dozen 45s or more.