Now that Mr. Reatard is branded with the distinctive Matador logo (not that there was ever a problem with Goner, Empty or In the Red), is he expected to provide more for the underground, worldwide culture, the teens, the kids, the collector scum? Is he expected to go above and beyond the call of duty? Is he expected to become one of “America’s Greatest Songwriters”? These are questions that need to be answered with an emphatic hells yes. I expect a decade of flawless singles and nothing less. I expect Tiger Beat stardom, fold-out posters, pins with his curly locks busting out the sides. He’s the been-there done-that idol – the brat that got beat (b-side “Screaming Hand” has some daddy issues), the glue sniffer, the boombox-recording pre-pubescent Ramone, the drop-out, and the gutter snake.
My love/hate relationship with the man stems from many corners. I was never a huge Reatards or Lost Sounds fan. I saw him in Digital Leather one night baiting hatred and violence to no avail. The kids just want to have fun. All that rage seemed to taper off with the Angry Angles and his solo triumph Blood Visions - the latter a head-to-toe, Eno influenced, skate-punk, shocker, stocked tight with hook’s sharp as chum drags. The underwear and blood cover was a selling point in itself, as if saying “I made a record by myself. Ended up naked and brain damaged.”
With “See-Saw,” the first of six singles that might just define my summer, consider it nothing but love. Jay Reatard possesses a bubblegum soul. Every little nuance of his phrasing throughout this nitrous aim at nursery rhyme (the play on words, the reflection of his indifference to stardom?), the Wedding Present meets Circle Jerks pointillism of his trend towards scrappier, bright, guitars sounds, the fist-raising outro, all make for the most joyous three minutes I’ve heard so far this year. Could he purposely be ripping from Superchunk’s On the Mouth? If you head over to his blog, you’ll bear witness to his obsession with XTC (see “Tiny Little Home”) or attempts at black metal (see “Forest of Blitzkrieg”), it’s a testament that might just reveal too much, too soon -- but the guy’s recent prolific streak is flawless. An equation for “Screaming Hand” is likely to involve Queen and the Wipers, we shouldn’t get there yet. Another time? We still have three weeks till the next installment.