Jay Reatard – Watch Me Fall (Matador)
“Here in this bedroom / Is where I sit / ‘Cuz I don’t really / Give a shit” goes the first single (“It Ain’t Gonna Save Me”) from Jay Reatard‘s Watch Me Fall. But giving a shit doesn’t necessarily mean that Reatard’s bedroom time isn’t productive. Judging by the whirlwind of recorded output he’s bestowed on us for the past few years, he’s been pretty busy with bashing out an impressive repertoire of manic punk/pop.
Enter the “pop” era of Reatard, and someone’s on hand to make sure the needle doesn’t go into the red so much. Is that a bad thing? I guess it depends on your perspective; I mean, Blood Visions was certainly a breath of fresh air even when it wasn’t anything totally original. It—and the Singles collections that followed—were a testament to how incredibly influential the Buzzcocks were, and how little their formula has changed when artists like Reatard re-interpret them.
Watch Me Fall is the first effort that begins to transition Jay from that easy tag, but it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. After all, punk rock’s a dangerous game: it causes morons to jump on stage and pull out your guitar cord and it incites others to simply grab your Flying V and slam it on the floor for no reason, and who wants to put up with those shenanigans as they approach 30?
Better to plan long-term now instead of well into a new decade of lofty and strident expectations. So Reatard delivers Watch Me Fall with hints of his past and glimpses of where he may travel.
It’s obvious that New Zealand is in his itinerary, with hints of Tall Dwarfs (whose co-founder Chris Knox recently suffered a stroke) and Kiwi stalwarts The Clean making noticeable impacts on Reatard’s new direction. These are all admirable building blocks, if one devotes the necessary care in delivering smart hooks with attention to detail.
Early on in Watch Me Fall, Reatard succeeds in spades before quickly losing steam by the albums second half, immediately after the deliciously infectious “Wounded.” Thankfully, the album is just around the thirty-minute mark so that right around the time you’ve become dulled with fake British accents, squeaky falsettos, and incessant whines, the album ends.
It’s the record’s “Side A” that will keep you coming back, and they’re so downright good that you’re forgiven for letting them overshadow the album’s weaker moments. There’s no evidence that Reatard has actually fallen with his latest, but perhaps he has stumbled a bit while finding solid footing into adulthood.
Video: Jay Reatard – “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me”
MP3: Jay Reatard – “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me”