The Reatards – Teenage Hate re-issue album review

I’ll be honest, before listening to the 1998 re-issue of The Reatard’s debut Teenage Hate, I had never heard of Jay Retard, who is front man and main rocker of the band, much less of his recent passing in 2010 (which was investigated as homicide case). In fact my ears are best kept away from the fury that boils in pimples of suburban teenagers. None the less, this Memphis punker had quite the career, signing at the tender age of fifteen and hitting his first tour abroad at eighteen. And from the very beginning his don’t-give-a-fuck mind combined with his highly aggressive attitude made itself clear in his first LP. The full-length release of Teenage Hate, which was previously only available on cassette, includes bonus tracks from Fuck Elvis Here’s the Reatard’s.

The album opens with “I’m So Gone” which Jay rages into the mike like a wild tribal chant of escape. I can barely make out anything that the guy says (and when I try googling lyrics to these tracks I’m comforted with the realization that barely anyone else can). Later into the album, I realize that what I’m hearing is real. These noisy blasts and fuzzy explosions cast me out into an angry haze of muffled understanding – lost in the noise of his emotions. All through the album the haze never lets up, in tracks like “C’mon Over”, “Fashion Victim”, and “I Can Live Without You” you wonder where the guy finds the chance to breathe.

Jay was infamous for his stubborn, uncontrollable temper and violent stage shows (See Youtube’s: ‘Jay Reatard kicks a dude in the face in Vegas, or ‘Jay Reatard throws girl off stage’). Indeed his songs (“When I Get Mad”) speak, or rather, scream for themselves. He was proud of the music he made and didn’t give a damn about what other people thought. Songs like “It Ain’t Me”, “Not Good Enough For You”, and “I Can Live Without You” hold the same tone of screw-you indifference when it came to his love life.

Each track sounds like someone took an analog recorder and forced it to re-live the psychological trauma of abusive parenting, 3rd world dictators, and high-school drama, in that order, then it went and let it graduate senior year only to corner it in a back alley and beat it with a baseball bat. What’s left over are pieces of washed out, raw-energy, with textures of guitars, vocals, and keyboards that work together to form a whole, mutilated beast. After listening through it I can’t say I’ve reached an understanding with The Reatard’s, nor can I see myself seeking out anything similar for my Recently Added playlist in iTunes, I guess I can say I have found a new appreciaton for this punk music for what it was, as being the flooding release to the life throbbing, so close to bursting, in the veins of these struggling, hot-bloodied artists.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top