Memphis garage pop punks the Barbaras were both lucky and unlucky to be taken under fellow weirdo Jay Reatard's wing. It meant they had a sympathetic producer and a leg up in getting some notice, and indeed this relationship may have helped them swing a deal with Goner Records, who released the group’s "Summertime Road" single in 2008. Unfortunately, it also splintered them when Reatard swiped two members for his own band, then, after they quit, he got mad and told the band their recordings had been erased. Luckily, the songs were found on Reatard’s digital recorder and after the band (with the help of Alicja Trout) recorded some new parts and mixed everything, all their songs were released for everyone to finally hear on 2006-2008. Even though the back story is pretty interesting, the 15 songs that make up the group’s entire legacy stand on their own. The band had a sound not too far from Reatard’s, with plenty of garage-raw guitar, rambunctious tempos, and snotty vocals. There’s also a healthy amount of bubblegum-sweet melodies and a happy-go-lucky bounce in there that’s no surprise considering two of the band’s members went on to form the wonderfully sweet and bouncy Magic Kids. In fact, their second single “Superball” shows up here in a more energetic and ramshackle version. It’s one of the highlights in a set of songs that has an almost excessive amount of lo-fi charm and energy. The speedy tracks like “Only One” and “Flow” that make up the bulk of their catalog tear out of the speakers in a wild rush of reverb, guitars, and vocal harmonies, but the band is equally adept at cutting the tempo a bit and strolling happily (“Topsy Turvy Magic”) or getting a little blue and doo woppy (“How Many Times”). At times sounding like a non-twee Apples in Stereo, the Barbaras had the songs, the sound, and the style to have become one of the more exciting bands at the decade’s end. It’s too bad that they pissed Reatard off so definitively at the time, but at least fans of clattering, smile-inducing garage pop can dig into the songs now.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra