WHEAT Don't I Hold You (City Slang)
WHEAT Hope And Adams (City Slang)
The first, in fact possibly the only, thing you need to know about the second album from shy and retiring Massachusetts band Wheat is that it was produced by Dave Fridmann, the former Mercury Rev bassist who, in the last year or so, has helmed Mogwai's "Come On Die Young", The Flaming Lips' "The Soft Bulletin" and the Rev's own "Deserter's Songs", i.e. three of the best albums ever made by anyone anywhere. So expectations are on the higher side of towering for "Hope And Adams", and I'm happy to say that it doesn't disappoint.
But neither does it immediately smack you about the temples with its brilliance. Rather like "Come On Die Young", this is an album that requires considerable running in before loosening up and beginning to reveal its greatness. What'll undoubtedly snag you first is the delicate, unprepossessing mantra of the single "Don't I Hold You", possibly American rock's most gorgeous four minutes since The Flaming Lips' "Race For The Prize". Then you'll start to admire the way they weave a few Paul Simon lines seamlessly into "Body Talk (Part 2)", the kind of rootsy acoustic hoe-down that would have Gomez crying in their pretzels, or how the gentle warmth of the album gets shattered and scattered by the distorted metal machine music of "More Than You'll Ever Know". Slowly, surreptitiously, you'll find yourself playing this album constantly: somehow, by virtue of its not-quite-memorable melodies and off-kilter metaphors ("Your love is a parking lot" being one of the more tangential observations) it will burrow its way deep into your affections and you won't want it to leave. Between the gently shifting musical backdrop and Scott Levesque's softly-spoken, sometimes treated vocals I think we've found ourselves the new Sparklehorse, and if that's a concept that appeals to you as much as it should "Hope And Adams" should be on your Christmas list.
Still unconvinced? Then take a gander at Wheat's new single, the wisely chosen album standout "Don't I Hold You". It has apparently already been awarded Single Of The Week on Marc Radcliffe's Radio 1 show, but don't let that put you off: if you remain unmoved by this simple slice of heartfelt longing you must have a hole in your soul. No flashy pyrotechnics, no posturing and absolutely no 60s steals, just a simple testament to the emotive clout of voice, drums, wires and keys.