Jay Reatard

Matador Singles '08 (Matador)

After releasing a spate of monthly singles on Matador, each with a more limited run, Memphis punk auteur Jay Reatard has seen fit to release the entire collection on one convenient CD—so the collector scum can duke it out on eBay while the rest of us just enjoy the music.

Restraint and self-editing have never been Reatard's strong points, and this time around that's a good thing. Matador Singles '08 offers a slightly more pop incarnation of Reatard, but there's still plenty of punk influence. What we have is punk-pop (as opposed to the corporatized pop-punk that has littered the airwaves for a decade plus).

The album's 12 tracks fly by, never giving the listener time to catch his breath before another immersion in the high-pitched, whirling vortex of Reatard's music. Sounding something like Devo, an amphetamine-charged Elvis Costello, or, better yet, the Banana Splits, there's something skewed and a bit scary about Reatard's spastic, paranoid pop. And what's more, you'll find the songs sticking in your craw at inopportune times. Surprisingly, this singles collection has surprising coherence, with the entire album merging into one fast-paced, mini-rock opera that'll make you nuts.