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Album Review

Wheat's fourth full-length effort arrives — finally — from Aware via Columbia, a full four years after the attractive indie fuzz of Hope and Adams. The label woes that caused the delay are notable only in their role as threshers for shucking Wheat from limbo to Aware, and turning Per Second, Per Second, Per Second...Every Second into the perfect record to shop at the end of 2003. In many ways, the Cambridge, MA, trio is like a Toad the Wet Sprocket for the 21st century. Just as Glen Phillips and his pals made mature pop music for a mid-'90s audience burned out on grunge, Wheat wants to dance with John Mayer's people, if only to show off the sculpted indie scuff on its fancy popternative shoes. Hope helmsman and Mercury Revver Dave Fridmann returns for Per Second. He tricks out relatively sweet and straightforward songs like "These Are Things," "I Met a Girl," and "Life Still Applies" with enough layered vocal and instrumental dynamics to posit them sufficiently past normal, but close enough to the mainstream to read the tag on its bra strap. It doesn't get much more accessible than "Some Days"' ooh ooh oohs and propulsive, almost dance-pop beat. But Wheat's lyrics are laced with a wry wit and touching resignation that makes the cut something more than radio-friendly pap. "Love takes its time/And I don't know a thing about it," Scott Levesque sings. "And some days you change your mind/Because I sure change my mind a lot about you." The alternate-channel vocal effects, snatches of conversation, and clutch of crunchy/swirling guitars punching up the radio rock riff only make it more uniquely accessible. Other highlights include "Hey, So Long (Ohio)," which delves back into the dream pop references of the band's early work, and "Closer to Mercury," a cleaned-up version of Hope and Adams' "Don't I Hold You." (Curiously, the song appears for a second time as a hidden bonus track, in a version much closer to its first incarnation.) Per Second, Per Second, Per Second...Every Second is a welcome return for Wheat, and one that should re-energize original fans while clogging its dance card with new ones. As a final comment on the band's appropriate marketing and sonic positioning, Glen Phillips — recent Aware solo signee — contributes guest vocals to "These Are Things."


Formed: 1996 in Dartmouth, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A decidedly low-key band from the Boston suburbs, Wheat boasted a dreamy, autumnal sound that owed a good deal to British shoegazing bands of the late-'90s. Formed in 1996 in Taunton, Massachusetts, the band turned away from traditional marketing tactics, instead exercising their creative whims during live performances. A fan sent one of Wheat's tapes to Sugar Free Records, a Chicago-based label that signed the band immediately. Core members Scott Levesque, Brendan Harney, and Ricky Brennan helped...
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Per Second, Per Second, Per Second... Every Second, Wheat
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