Published Aug 14, 2009After months of speculation and a wildly successful singles collection, wily Memphis garage genius Jay Reatard has finally dropped his debut full-length for Matador. And, as expected, Watch Me Fall is the most poppy record he's released yet. By all counts, that's a very good thing. If playing sweaty, balls-out garage punk in his various projects over the last decade has taught Reatard anything, it's how to cram explosive ideas into three minutes or less. Add depth, diversity and a strong desire to give each song its own identity and you have one of the best power pop records released in a long while. Opener "It Ain't Gonna Save Me" provides the burst of frantic punk pop fans are expecting but with a newfound depth in production and diversity. Then "Before I Was Caught" comes in with a guitar lead that would work just as well in a Cheap Trick jam. Elsewhere, tracks like "I'm Watching You" allow acoustic guitars and keys to lead their summery vibe, while closer "There Is No Sun" builds to a gloriously hopeless chorus with violins and guitars. Forgetting both the hype and the inevitable backlash, Watch Me Fall successfully demonstrates Reatard's abilities as a songwriter, suggesting many more excellent power pop records in the years to come.
How did you arrive at the sound of this album?
When I was putting the record together, I had a bunch of songs that were just in the vein of previous stuff I had done. I kind of felt like the obvious thing to do would be to make another Buzzcocks, Wire-ish ,sped up, new wave-y garage record. That seemed like the easiest way to keep the fans I have and gain some more but it wouldn't have been fulfilling. I have so many songs that I'm working on all the time that I tend to come up with a concept of how I want an album to sound and then I go cherry pick songs I have. That said, I don't think I'm maturing; I just wanted to spotlight a certain style of songwriting on this record, as opposed to the more aggressive side I showed on earlier releases.
How have people reacted to the cleaner production?
I've read over and over again that this is too polished and I'm like, "are you kidding me?" As far as I'm concerned this is a pretty mid- to lo-fi album. I mean, it's not lo-fi in the sense of Siltbreeze and a lot of the bullshit they put out and call music but it's listenable lo-fi and it's interesting. (Matador)