This is a singles compilation by Jay Reatard, it collects a series of singles that he has released over a few months of this year, and it’s the first material he has made whilst signed to his new label Matador. A decision was made to gradually limit the amount of each 7” as they were released, concluding with the final one from mid September which was almost impossible to obtain. Needless to say, this method drove both music nerd fetishists and rabid Reatard fans crazy, few, if any, managed to collect the whole set of vinyl, and will have to make do with this CD. What can be found with this collection is that Jay Reatard is taking significant steps towards indie pop/rock of the melodic type, and away from garage rock/punk of the snotty pissed off type.The most compelling songs here have relentless pace, the fiery scribbling of an acoustic strum, searing electric leads, simple primary colour melodies and anthemic air-punching cathartic choruses. ‘Screaming Hand’ tells the story of a kid who doesn’t get enough love, just ‘An empty beer bottle/And a screaming hand’, the kid grows up and eventually comes to see things from his old man’s perspective, ‘Finding out/Just how hard things were/For this old man’. This depressing snapshot is perhaps not immediately evident on your first dozen listens to the song, what is so compelling is just how cool it sounds, how awesomely head banging, good-times evoking it is, and it’s a gut punch when you actually notice the lyrics. This isn’t unusual for Reatard’s out-put though, his seemingly shallow gutter-punk image has often shown cracks where this creepy and upsetting stuff spills out. ‘Always Wanting More’ is another excellent song, this time slightly lighter in lyrical tone - not being able to give what is asked for, frustration ensuing - but just as earth-shatteringly catchy. A towering, brilliant electric guitar riff dominates the relatively short song (sub 2 mins), verging into hair metal territory very slightly, and there is a punch you in the face repeatedly obvious chorus of ‘Always wanting more/Always wanting more/You’re such a useless bore/But you’re always wanting more’. ‘An Ugly Death’ carries the catchy torch, with some added synth and a more playful tone, and so does ‘See/Saw’, sans synth.When he isn’t kicking out fantastic catchy stuff there is some of what feels like meat and potatoes fare with ‘Painted Shut’, enhancing the acoustic strumming and contrasting faster and slower parts. ‘You Mean Nothing To Me’ is the least punk and most rock he has sounded, more laid-back and with a mandolin appearing out of the blue. Then there’s a set of Buzzcocks themed songs that aren’t quite catchy enough, and a couple of twitches towards acoustic singer-songwriter songs.When touring Jay Reatard is a three (if not four) member band, but it’s hard not to think of it as a solo proposition when it comes to recording. Lo-fidelity is apparent in many songs, distortions at the top end of the volume scale and spiky digital fizz are prevalent, and there is a layering of guitars. Often there will be an acoustic playing out the melody all the way through the song in the background, and Reatard will riff and embellish over the top of it with an electric. Maybe it’s just me, but the kid in his bedroom/garage aesthetic gets me nearly every time, and with these singles I am particularly won over. With a new album for Matador in the works and murmurings from the man himself about a more ‘indie rock’ direction, I’m definitely looking forward to more Reatard, and blasting this exciting release in the meantime.75%Jay Reatard on MySpace