Jay Reatard had another busy year in 2008. His new deal with Matador led him to release 7" singles throughout the first two-thirds of the year. Matador Singles '08 collects all of them and adds a bonus track. If you've been following Jay for a while you sort of know what to expect from the songs, and that's lo-fi blasts of a unique concoction made up of raw garage rock and jittery post-punk, topped with sharp hooks and Reatard's yowling vocals. You can also expect to find him a further step away from the nearly uncontrolled wildness of previous records and projects with a more measured and often, dare it be said, mature approach. Amazingly, many of the songs feature acoustic guitars and a relaxed vocal delivery; the "No Time"/"You Were Sleeping" single even sounds like a sleepy but lovely update on the Buddy Holly sound. Other tracks, like the opening "See Saw" or "Painted Shut," show the Go-Betweens influence that was made clear by the cover of that group's "Don't Let Him Come Back" on a previous single, and you can't get much more mature than that. The restraint shown on most of the songs doesn't mean that the level of excitement has diminished or that the record doesn't jump out of the speakers and slap you around a bit like previous Reatard projects. Thanks to his electric vocals, enthusiastic guitar work, and the raucous rhythms provided by the other two dudes in the band (though it's not clear if they played on the singles or if it was all Jay), there's enough rock & roll energy here to power a small town. Take "Always Wanting More" or "Hiding Hole" out for a spin if you're worried that Reatard is too grown up and has left his wild side behind. What makes the collection, and the direction Reatard seems to be heading, so good is that he is growing musically without leaving behind the fierce intensity and savage power that got him where he is. It's a difficult balancing act to manage but he makes it look pretty simple. Now if only he would do something about those album covers.....
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra