Jay Reatard – Matador Singles ’08

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Surprisingly, Jay Reatard is releasing all the songs off of his latest seven inch series on Matador Records in an easy to use CD format, not to mention the fact that you will actually be able to get your hands on this compilation, rather than bidding the hundereds of dollars required to acquire the 7 inches.

Okay, so there might be some bias in that first paragraph, but now that the CD version of the 7 inches has been made available, does it live up to the adoration for those Jay Reatard fans out there?  Yes, and no.

Opening the album with “See/Saw” is a good choice, as it is one of the two best songs on the entire collection.  It’s full of that classic pop sensibiliity that the band incorporates into their garage-punk sound.  It’s a good introduction to the collection–but the band has to step it up from here in order to win over the listener on this compilation.

But, the band doesn’t really go much further on the album, aside from “Always Wanting More,” which is one of the better songs the band has created. It’s easily the most pop driven effort that you will find here; this is the best formula for creativity with concerns to Jay Reatard.

Aside from those two highlights, there isn’t a lot of quality offered on the rest of the complilation. Sure, you get a cover of Deerhunter‘s “Fluorescent Grey,” but even that isn’t the most remarkable of covers.  There are also a lot of flaws, such as the quality of the vocals.  It seems that the lo-fi recording process could have been a little more fleshed out here.  Sure, it’s got that 7 inch quality, but is that what you want on CD?  It’s an entirely different medium, and the vocals sound nothing at all like they did on Bloodvisions.

So at the end of the album, you have to judge the compilation as one would judge a complete album.  As far as complete albums go, most will find that its a fairly poor effort.  Some extreme high points, but nothing as consistent as the band’s last full length.  In fact, you can find lower moments here, then anywhere else in the band’s catalogue (extended and as Jay Reatard).  It seems that as prolific as this man has become, that it might do him well to take a break.  He might get more from spending a little time in the studio writing and mixing, and we, the listeners, might get more as well.

Still, as a different medium, as the collection was orginally intended and produced, it was pretty glorious; this despite the fact that various record stores–I’m looking at you Waterloo–hoarded the 7 inches for their employees, or even for eBay sales, which will cost you two arms and a knee-cap to get the final 7 inch.  So as compilation it fails, other than providing you with an easily transferable format to carry with you, but as a collection of 7 inches, go Jay Reatard!

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