Jay Reatard

Watch Me Fall

Written by: TL on 24/09/2009 22:10:27

Having been the only person around our staff even remotely interested in the merits of indie rock, it has become tradition for our dear editor PP to pass on every record he might find to be even slightly indie, for me to apply my minimal knowledge of the genre in a review. Such has it been before and such it is now, and hence I am finding myself tasked with reviewing "Watch Me Fall", the new album from Jay Reatard. And I write that like I have a clue about who he is, but the truth is I have next to no idea, but from his wikipedia entry I have learnt that he's pretty much been making indie records since his early teens and that by now his discography counts somewhere over nine thousand releases. Despite the fact that I sense that this guy might be sort of a big deal within the indie genre, I just honestly don't know, but I'm going to review his album anyway, and then the genre purists may direct claims to have my head on a plate to PP's email. Found in our About Section.

So anyway, about this record.. Judging from the sound of it, I can believe that Mr. Reatard (or Mr. Lindsey, as he's really named) is sort of an indie mogul, because if I was to describe a stereotypical sound for the genre, it would be damn close to what he sounds like here. First off, everything about it sounds purposefully minimalistic and garage-ish, even though Jay is signed to Matador Records. Guitars are set to fuzzy distortion, Jay's voice is set to "crazy child" mode, almost everything is up-tempo, and the soundscape is as compressed and humble as can be. To spice things up, odd references to the punk and garage rock genres are littered all over the record, as are weird things that seem to belong to the seventies or eighties. You get the feeling that you're listening to a band halfway between The Hives and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, while you're constantly waiting for someone odd, like say.. The Beatles, Screeching Weasel or even Quentin Tarantino, to arrive on the record and demand to have this or that thing given back to them.

I have a hard time getting the point of this record though, and here is why: More or less eight out of twelve tracks on this record are variations of the same song, or at least sounds like it even after numerous listens. A fast beat, some staccato riffage, semi-catchy but repetitive lyrics, verse, chorus, solo, over. The remaining four are slower, and thus stand out in comparison, but when that's been said, they still seem just as unexciting. The problem is that Jay Reatard doesn't seem to me like he has much of an artistic agenda. There's no real mood he's trying to set and no real story he's trying to tell, and if there is any emotion in there, the quirky, childish vocal work makes it next to impossible to take it seriously. In fact I'm pretty certain that the point is to not take this seriously, and that all Jay wants us to do is dance to his music and maybe be convinced that he's a bit of an oddball? If that's the case, then sure, mission accomplished, but am I the only one that thinks that's a little flat? It could be that I'm just too used to the pathos that come from more serious rock bands, and that I should wind down and learn to just chill and have some harmless fun, but really, I feel like shaking Jay Reatard and shouting "WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS JAY!? WHY AM I LISTENING TO IT!?". In an interview on the guys' myspace, it says he has written over nine hundred songs, and if that's true, then I can't help but question why he doesn't slow down a bit, take his time, and compose something that's a little more worth my while. Until that happens, I suggest you listen to any of the bands I've listed in "For The Fans Of" first.

5

Download: It Ain't Gonna Save Me, I'm Watching You
For The Fans Of: The Hives, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, The Strokes, Maximo Park
Listen: myspace.com/jayreatard

Release Date 18.08.2009
In The Red / Goner / Shattered/Matador

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