Jay Reatard, 'Watch Me Fall' (Matador)

9
Watch Me Fall
Critical Mass
Label: Matador

by Joe Gross

Jay Reatard tells a big fat lie with the title of his second solo album's shortest song, the one-minute, 45-second "Can't Do It Anymore." Instead, he's giving the distinct impression that he can make his roller-coaster guitar roar for as long as he likes. It's an unlikely story: Pudgy fellow with annoying stage name moves from garage gunk to some of the highest-octane power pop since college radio was guided by voices.

Reatard, born Jay Lindsey in 1980, started making a three-chord thud in his teens with the Reatards, the Lost Sounds, and a host of other bands. But jaws hit the floor in 2006 upon hearing the squirmy, pedal-stomp guitar fuzz and pogo-ready energy of his solo debut, Blood Visions. Six perfect singles followed in 2008; few indie rockers have ever been on a roll like this.

Watch Me Fall is even more melodic. Reatard classes up the joint a bit, smearing organ, hard-strummed acoustic guitar, and strings on the unrequited-love epic "I'm Watching You." But his heart is still in punky blipverts like "Faking It" (you, not him) and "Man of Steel" (he'll break your cage and run free). Surprisingly well sequenced, Fall closes with its longest song, "There Is No Sun" (3:49), where the chorus bursts open like a 1967 Liverpool summer dawn. Reatard's urges are old-school, which also can mean classic.

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