I'm not going to bother with the back story to this prolific punk maverick as it wasn't that long ago that he put out the more than cohesive compilation for his In The Red Records releases. Reatard is a new signing to Matador records and for the last six months they have been putting out a limited 7" which. Each release has been put out in a progressively more limited run, starting with 3,500 worldwide for single No. 1 and ending with only 400 for No. 6. They experimented with multiple formats from picture discs, split 7" and colour vinyl and together they really show Reatard's love for this format and the freedom it brings.
As you'd imagine this collection covers a smaller timescale than the previous one and so sounds a whole lot more coherent. The fierce power-house bursts like It's So Useless have disappeared and the whole sound has changed in an interesting way. It hasn't mellowed, but Reatard has managed to morph his energy into fully-formed rock songs - but still shoehorns them into punk-length packages. So what you get is verse, chorus and guitar solos but all at breakneck speed like each song really has to be somewhere else, like, yesterday. The exception to this general rule is the Deerhunter cover version Florescent Grey which appeared on the split 7", the other song being Deerhunter's returning the favor with a version of Reatard's Oh, It's Such A Shame.
This collection will more than fill the gap for those eagerly awaiting Reatard's follow up to Blood Visions as it plays out like an album. He has experimented with his sound and spans a wide range, from the punk stab of Screaming Hand to the psychedelia of the Deerhunter cover to the full on pop of An Ugly Death. These new strings to his bow and the willingness to experiment are turning Jay Reatard into a power-house of an act that is always guaranteed to surprise. He displays a wealth of of ideas and an exciting lack of preciousness about releasing them. As a compilation this works very well but the real winner here is Reatard's resurrecting of the magic that goes along with the 7" release. It's a dying form, but since joining Matador he has shown that there's plenty of life in it yet.