Let me firstly confess, that until he appeared on the radar pages of the NME, I had heard nothing of Jay Reatard, but apparently he’s been a very busy boy. He released six limited edition 7”s in the space of sixth months – a collection which has been put together to ensure that those who missed out on his singles (and subsequent b-sides) can still grab a piece of the action. And it’s most certainly welcome.
This collection is listed chronologically, meaning that you can truly appreciate the evolution of Jay’s sound. Opening track ‘See/Saw’ boasts bratty punk vocals layered with a lo-fi sound – as if he raided his kitchen pans for the drum kit. ‘Screaming Hand’ is equally brilliant, with an infectious chorus that just bounces around and won’t leave. The coarseness of these early songs is soon abandoned with the addition of keyboards and a somewhat poppier sound on the excellent ‘An Ugly Death’, which still manages to sound like something which wouldn’t sound too alien on a Buzzcocks album.
It’s at this point that the screaming is left to one side, and the wonderfully poppy ‘Always Wanting More’ and ‘You Mean Nothing To Me’ are as sweet as you’ll get on this collection, with more of an indie-pop feel to them than previous singles; indeed, they only suffer from one criticism – they are far too short! (each is barely over 2 minutes!). Halfway through this collection we are treated to a cover of Deerhunter’s ‘Fluorescent Grey’, which sounds like it’s being performed live in an empty school hall somewhere, and shows that Jay is capable of more than what we’ve seen so far.
However, the compilation hits a slump on ‘Trapped Here’, a plodding effort which does nothing beyond holding up the eventual explosion of ‘Hiding In My Hole’ and ‘Dead On Arrival’, two urgent, thrashing, grotty garage rock songs which are both brilliant, but once again, are just far too brief. The rest of the promo is missing its last 3 songs, so I can only hope that they are as good as those which have preceded it.
This collection is, for the most part, a joy to listen to; simple whist being erratic and unpredictable, it kept me listening throughout. Taking into account that most of the material on this collection is made up of b-sides, the idea of his upcoming proper album becomes even more exciting. Jay Reatard is definitely one to watch.