Jay Reatard Watch Me Fall(Matador) Buy it from Insound
2009 has been a bit of a pop culture disappointment. Michael Jackson died, Patrick Swayze (or “Pesky the Excitable Boy” if you’re a Gary Busey fan) will only be with us for a few more months, Transformers 2 sucked, someone made GI Joe, and Muse will be allowed to release another album (Eurasia! Eurasia!). Music has been consistently decent. Sure, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Veckatimest, and maybe Bitte Orca were good, if not great albums, but there have been a significant lack of albums that I just can’t get out my head. 2008 had No Age, Portishead, Deerhunter, TV on the Radio and Girl Talk all producing albums that I played over and over again on long walks across campus. Jay Reatard’s Watch Me Fall might not be as good as anything by Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, The Dirty Projectors or even Dan Deacon, but it sure does stick with you better than just about anything else this year.
Watch Me Fall finds Reatard in his usual paranoid state and solidifying the ideas he toyed with on last year’s Matador Singles compilation. Every song on the record is better than anything on the singles compilation. He’s expanded on the blistering, loud punk of Blood Visions and added catchy vocals, some acoustic guitar and even the occasional keyboard. It’s more instantly likeable and less harsh. He’s making pop punk like nobody else does; it’s creepy and depressing and catchy as hell.
It’s arranged flawlessly, with each song flowing easily to the next. If Watch Me Fall has any single flaw, it’s the variety that is sacrificed in the name of album continuity. The vocal parts can sound a bit similar after a while and the tempos don’t change often enough. There really aren’t any bad moments, but all the good ones start to sound the same after a while.
The albums themes are also pretty monotonous, but this serves more as a benefit than a detractor. Reatard’s relentless paranoia and depression help make the album a seamless whole. The album begins with him complaining on It Ain’t Gonna Save Me that there's “a cloud shit on me and I don’t know why” and ends with There Is No Sun, which finds him complaining (again), obviously enough, about the lack of sun in his world. Both songs find him exploring loneliness and depression in the same way; the clouds aren’t raining on anyone else or covering their sun, just his. Lyrically, they successfully tie the ends of the album together. He’s alone in his house on Before I Was Caught and alone in his melancholy landscape all across the record. He comes off as a relentlessly creepy stalker on I’m Watching You: as my cousin Alex so eloquently put, “of course it’s creepy. I spent a night in jail last time I tried that.”
Green Day makes pop punk too, but they don’t make it as uniquely or as well as Reatard (no one does, at least in 2009). They also claim to know their enemy, though they never specify who that is (maybe a retired right wing politician?). Jay Reatard knows his enemy, and it’s himself. He’s just hanging around, alone with just his thoughts imagining that he gets to Hang Them All. He has found his musical voice on Watch Me Fall, and while it may not be the best album of 2009, it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable.21 August, 2009 - 08:30 — Andrew Baer