Under Review: Jay Reatard – Watch Me Fall

In his song “God,” John Lennon famously remarked “I don’t believe in Beatles/I just believe in me.” When it comes to Jay Reatard (né Lindsey), though, he doesn’t seem to believe in his any of his numerous former bands or in himself. Jay’s latest LP, Watch Me Fall, follows a several-year string of EPs and 7” records that cemented Reatard’s place as garage punk’s torch-bearer. Though his live shows remain aggressive and confrontational, Jay’s new album is far more accessible than you might expect from someone with such an attention-grabbing surname. In its dozen tracks, Watch Me Fall provides a fair amount of punk blasts, but the ventures outside of three-chord constraints show off Jay’s creativity as a pop musician. Kicking off with “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me,” an upbeat ode to being down, the album tears through power pop’s roots, smashing and bashing everything along the way. Though Jay hails from Memphis, his vocals always bring to mind the great punk and pop singers from overseas. On Watch Me Fall, Jay makes like Nick Lowe (“I’m Watching You”), Dave Vanian (“Faking It”) and even Neil Finn (“Wounded”). Aside from bubbly pop, Jay challenges himself and his audience with a spacey experiment (the Sparks-like “Nothing Now”) and “There Is No Sun,” the big-production, British Invasion-y closer. This year in particular, many bands that previously played to limited, devoted fanbases have released albums that have launched or could launch them into the mainstream. Jay might not reach past the indie underground (at least not without a change of name), but through his freewheeling records, it’s clear that, to him, having tremendous fun on his own terms is his real goal. And that’s something to believe in.

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~ by E. on August 21, 2009.

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