After years of being out of print, Goner Records has just reissued the Reatards' sophomore full-length, Grown Up, Fucked Up, on vinyl. Almost two decades ago, Jay "Reatard" Lindsey first made home recordings under the Reatards moniker after being blindsided with a "Wait a minute ... I can do that!" moment of clarity when he witnessed the Oblivians open for Rocket from the Crypt at the New Daisy. But by the time the Reatards' second album saw release at the end of 1999 through Empty Records, the band had three 7" EPs and a debut full-length (the previous year's Teenage Hate was the 10th release by Goner) to its credit. The first Reatards 7" EP (the eighth Goner title) had surfaced as recently as 1997 and speaks to an impressive pace and work ethic, but the remarkable fact is that the "grown-up" in the album's title referenced Lindsey's then-recent 19th birthday.
Additionally, the Reatards' live show had graduated into an incendiary and often chaotic experience. Going way beyond the venue ban notices and local-level trash talk from an underground scene that hated anything it didn't understand (and it didn't understand A LOT), the Reatards' live show was exported to Europe, which exported it back when the tour culminated with an audience member in Germany jumping onstage and opening up Lindsey's arm with a broken bottle.
The classic Reatards lineup, or lineups, had Lindsey backed by second guitarist Sean "Albundy" Redd (his nom de performance should silence anyone who might accuse the band of lacking a sense of humor) and Ryan "Wong" Rousseau on drums (now better known as the founder/ringleader of the still active and crushing Destruction Unit). At some point between the recording of Teenage Hate and Grown Up, Rousseau was replaced by Mississippi transplant Rich Crook. One of contemporary underground rock's most underrated/underused rock-solid drummers, Crook would subsequently provide the backbone for Lindsey's next primary musical endeavor, the Lost Sounds.
Grown Up, Fucked Up, despite the age of its primary creator, displays a marked advance over Teenage Hate when it comes to Lindsey's songwriting and guitar playing (economic but impressive leads that pop up all over this record). Teenage Hate was wholly unhinged punk fury against the backdrop of a waning 1990s garage-rock underground, daring the target audience to ignore it. Grown Up could be the Reatards putting '90s garage rock to bed by creating its perfect last word, as this song cycle feels like a reimaging or corrective exercise rather than an attempt to erase the subgenre from the earth's surface.
But as Eric Friedl's updated liner notes point out, there was some innovation here. Grown Up was either the first, or a very early effort, to mix garage rock with the late-'70s/early-'80s outlier/private-label punk, power pop, post-punk, and proto-hardcore associated with the soon to be highly influential Killed by Death and Bloodstains Across... compilations. The two excellent covers, King Louie Bankston's (via his band the Persuaders) "Heart of Chrome" and "I Want Sex" by the Reactors, couldn't have fit more seamlessly with the original material.
Revisiting theme and mood, Grown Up differs from previous Reatards material by showcasing more menace and break-up pain/anger, plus a touch of the dark worldview that would come closer to fruition in Lindsey's next band.
Something else that distances Grown Up from the rest of the original-run discography is a notch up in production quality. Not quite the blown-out, in-the-red affair that is Teenage Hate, the recordings were done on analog 8-track at a home-studio setup by Lindsey and a partner in crime who would become the most important collaborator of Lindsey's career, Alicja Trout.
It is with Trout that Jay would embark upon his first and last experience splitting all creative duties with another songwriter in the aforementioned Lost Sounds from 1999 to 2005, but the pioneers of modern dark-wave/synth-punk-meets-garage punk remained relegated to side-project status until late-00.
This reissue of Grown Up, Fucked Up comes as a single 150-gram LP (on white vinyl if you act fast) with a download version that includes the three-song "You're So Lewd" 7" EP, also originally released in 1999 and the title that inaugurated the Reatards' move to Empty Records.
One side of the inner sleeve features the album's original liner notes and credits, and, though brief, the opposite side is essential reading in the form of remembrances by Friedl and Empty Records' co-founder Meghan Smith, along with a solitary comment by former collaborator, colleague, and close friend, Goner co-owner Zac Ives.