After signing to Sony and releasing Per Second, Per Second, Per Second . . . Every Second in 2003, Wheat (which formed in Massachusetts in 1996) found itself touring with the likes of Toad the Wet Sprocket and former indie it-girl Liz Phair and sharing a label with John Mayer. Despite the resources and the fact that the album was brimming with radio-ready singles, the general public still has no idea of who Wheat is.
Now that the flirtation with mainstream success is over, Wheat is back on an indie and attempting to rediscover into its old identity. And on its best moments, Every Day I said a Prayer for Kathy and Made a One-Inch Square, perfectly captures the middle ground between pop hooks, accessibility and restless experimentation. “Little White Dove” features vocalist Scott Levesque singing three different lines simultaneously, creating a swirling bit of chaos that is refreshing and inventive. “Closeness” builds layers of feedback, vocals and drones until they break, morphing into a cathartic racket of structured noise over a repeating vocal: “So much more to me than anything.” But balancing the old and the new is not easy, and many moments feel as forced experimentation, deliberate eccentricity and listless meandering (see “To, As in Addressing the Grave” and “An Exhausted Fixer”)
This album is a detour from the straightforwardness of Per Second, which means that comparatively it also often feels disjointed and uncomfortable. We surely don’t hear on Per Second the awkward vocal wavering that appears on “Little White Dove” and “Saint in Law.” Wheat is a great band that writes smart songs and uses imaginative instrumentation, and the members don’t have to apologize for the directions they’ve taken. If anything, Every Day I Said a Prayer For Kathy and Made a One-Inch Square will at least build their confidence after their mainstream failure.