Albums of 2008: Day 30 – Jay Reatard – Matador Singles ’08

Sometimes you unconsciously avoid something for a long time and then suddenly stumble into it and are baffled that such a collision took so long. That’s what happened with me and Jay Reatard. Slightly put off my his stage name (I’m still not into it), I just never got around to checking out any of his tunes. But then I scheduled a trip to Charlottesville at the same time that Reatard was playing Outback Lodge and prepared for the show by picking up this album.

Damn. I’m glad that I’m no longer missing out on these garage pop tunes. Though Reatard is loud and straightforward in a live setting (every song at the show I saw started with a thwap-thwap-thwap snare and then a wall of guitar), the recorded tunes take on many more textures. One of those textures is the spazzy weirdo vibe of Jay, who has a sort of squeaky voice that, like so many other interesting singers, verges on annoying but ultimately finds its own unique angle.

The first half of this album is my favorite, as it features the more melodic and catchy tunes. After the Deerhunter cover (“Fluorescent Grey”), things go a little more rawk. Not a bad thing, but I find Jay & Co. most enjoyable when they throw together scrappiness and hooks and let the sparks fly.

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