Memphis punk rock clown prince ups melody, keeps qualityLike an early-morning cup of coffee shaking awake its master, Jay Reatard's new album and Matador debut, Watch Me Fall, kicks off with a jolt.
"It Ain't Gonna Save Me"—inarguably one of the best tracks to date from the Memphis punk rocker born Jay Lindsey—seethes melodic vitriol with its breathless guitars and lyrics about shitting clouds. It's the high point of Watch Me Fall
, but the rest of the record hardly slouches. Tracks like "Man of Steel" and "Can't Do it Anymore" are filled with that special brand of two-to-three-minute Reatard hopelessness, but acoustic guitar, cello and generally expanded instrumentation are also peppered throughout. A lot has been made of Reatard's softening on this record, and indeed, this is no Blood Visions
in terms of quote unquote punk rock. "Wounded" starts off with ba-da-ba-ba's that wouldn't sound out of place on a Shins record, and in "I'm Watching You," a higer-fidelity reprisal of his 2008 single, Reatard alters the lyrics slightly to turn the focus on himself. A kinder, gentler Jay Reatard? Perhaps, but probably not for long. "I can
only go so clean before I’ll want to do something different," Reatard recently told Paste. "I know I won’t be
making another record like Watch Me Fall
again, this was a record
I wanted to make and I needed to make, something I felt artistically driven to
do. Now that I’ve made it, I’m on to the next idea."