Released 10 years ago today, Jay Reatard’s final album is a beautiful, painful reminder of the punk rock superhero we lost far too soon.
While Watch Me Fall is technically only his second full-length studio effort, the late legend’s career stretched back more than a dozen years to when, as a 15-year-old kid, he sent his homemade demo into Memphis punk label Goner Records, who liked what they heard.
That kicked off an insanely prolific run that witnessed the explosive young talent experimenting with punk, power-pop, synth-rock and garage rock behind groups and monikers like Bad Times, the Final Solutions, Angry Angles, Terror Visions and Destruction Units.
United by his raw power, memorable songwriting and lo-fi approach, Reatard merged all those elements on his blazing 2006 solo debut, Blood Visions, which landed him a deal at Matador Records. In this period he released a slew of singles—gathered on the compilations Singles 06-07 and Matador Singles ’08—that showed him refining his manic energy into a potent sound ready for the masses.
Everything comes together on 2009’s Watch Me Fall, which signaled the arrival of a fully-realized talent ready for the world.
Songs like “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me,” “Faking It” and “Hang Them All” pack all the frenzied angst and chaos of his early recordings into a tightly packaged form of noise pop, while tunes like “I’m Watching You” and “My Reality” show him exposing his soft and tender underbelly. And then there are tracks like “Can’t Do It Anymore,” “Rotten Mind” and “There Is No Sun,” which deal openly with the inner demons that tortured him throughout his life
Watch Me Fall is the record where Jay Reatard reached his full potential. And just as his star was rising, his promising life and career came to an abrupt halt when he was found dead in his Memphis home in January of 2010.
Ryan is a writer, editor and vinyl collector currently based in Los Angeles. He started Mini Music Critic in 2017.