Tennessee’s gritty garage-rock sweetheart Jay Reatard (formerly of the short-lived Bad Times, the Reatards, and Lost Sounds) has culled his copious catalog and fashioned his inclination for raucous punk into the much-anticipated 13-song Matador Singles ’08. Containing the 7-inch singles and B-sides Matador’s been piecing out since April, the collection is a string of pearls plus one.
Confronting the classic emotional booby-traps and circumstances that preoccupy our thoughts in the late evening, Reatard attempts to put people in their places and situations in perspective, if only for his own sake. Album opener “See/Saw” has a prickly, dirty Ramones influence, while hypnotic tendencies in “Screaming Hand” give way to bright, genial melodies a la the Clean. Through rapid downbeats and reverb-drizzled vocals, slightly ominous “An Ugly Death” traipses along the familiar path of empathy for the disillusioned. Contemplative and candid “No Time” expresses concern over settling for less than expected, and suggests escapism, if only for a moment.