Recording artists like Jay Reatard don’t really evolve. They just go full-bore with the high-beams on, until their batteries run out. Fortunately for Reatard and us, this compilation suggests that he’s nowhere near running out of juice.
A veteran of the underground Memphis music scene, Reatard (born Jay Lindsey) has only recently stirred national excitement, and Singles 06-07 makes for a neat introduction to a wonderfully messy performer.
When you get past Reatard’s productivity (17 original tracks over a two-year period), you notice how seamlessly these disparate singles flow together, as if one song picks up a thought he left unfinished three months earlier.
Reatard the vocalist is a screeching cat with a pseudo-British accent, and his voice suits a collection of material that brings to mind everyone from Singles Going Steady Buzzcocks to early, lo-fi Guided By Voices.
To Reatard, love means using somebody for long enough to avert suicide, until the next wrong person comes along. As he succinctly puts it in the unrelentingly desperate “It’s So Useless”: “I’m just killing time/instead of killing you.”
While his worldview rarely allows for any sunshine, he surprise you with offbeat moments of pop wonder. “All Over Again” may be a jaded lament, but its lovely, music-box acoustic guitar feels like Buddy Holly, as interpreted by Tusk-era Lindsey Buckingham. And “Another Person” delivers its “you give me the creeps” putdown with assistance from a festive, roller-rink Farfisa organ and a vaguely ska-punk rhythm.
The hits just keep on coming for Reatard. Let’s hope that nobody gets hurt.