Jay Reatard – Watch Me Fall

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Rating: ★★★★½

Jay Reatard, the supposed bad boy of garage rock, returns this year with his new album, Watch Me Fall. Unlike his last few releases, these are sets of new songs, which show a similarly new side to the band.  While Bloodvisions was fueled by a sense of madness and fury, here we find a more subdued effort; it shows that Jay Reatard is more than just a one trick pony, and the group is destined to go beyond the stereotypical garage sounds.

When the record opens with “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” we meet the same Jay Lindsey we’ve known for years.  Energized and blasting his guitar licks as quickly as he can, speeding furiously towards the end of the song. Oddly, it’s one of the few songs of this set that offers us a glimpse at the garage-punk element of Jay Reatard, as the rest of the record seems to veer into the realms of garage-tinged power-pop.

“Before I Was Caught” is a rime example of the new direction, and let’s say it, the softer side, of the band.  Sure, the guitar is still chugging along, but it’s not done with the same intensity as it’s been done in the past, which isn’t a bad thing in the least bit. Sure, the high-pitched yelp of Lindsey comes into play here, but his delivery outside of the chorus demonstrates a more relaxed approach to songwriting.

Coming across a song like “Can’t Do It Anymore” yet again portrays a poppier world for the group, even with the excruciating feedback in the midst of the song, the overall tone of the song is a bit more uplifting, though the lyrics might not portray the exact same sentiment.  You can pile this on to the chorus of “Faking It,” which again shows a Lindsey who isn’t screaming with force in the face of his listeners.  Finally, we’re presented with a likable attitude, one that is more endearing to a multitude of listeners in contrast to the band as of a short bit ago.

We even find ourselves visiting the land of balladry in this collection of songs.  “I’m Watching You” is a perfect gem of power-pop goodness, and although there is some sonic exploration as guitars meaner mid-song, it still encompasses an overwhelming feeling of a strong ballad. You can place such moments right alongside the album’s closer, “A Whisper (There is No Sun).”  It’s probably one of the most accessible songs in the Jay Reatard collection to this point, and despite partially indecipherable lyrics, you still can gather the emotion from this song.

To sum it all up, we have a new band here, or almost.  There’s a bit of calling out, there’s a bit of remorse, but overall, there is a shift in the direction of the songwriting, ultimately making the album much more rewarding to listeners than anything that has preceded the group.  Watch Me Fall is a gem of power-pop stirred inside a garage smoothie, and surely worthy of accolades and adoration.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/12-there-is-no-sun.mp3]

Download: Jay Reatard – A Whisper (There is No Sun) [MP3]

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