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The anonymous vibe Wheat sends out through its CD sleeve—no names, random binary data as art, dadaesque word lists—betrays the personal nature of its songs. Singer Scott Levesque, who faintly recalls the soft, passionate yelp of perennial power balladeer John Waite, sings sullen tales over a sonic backing of slo-mo, mid-fi guitar pop. Accompanied by the fuzzy ambiance of distant keyboard swirls, Levesque croons, “I know my eyes don’t glitter like the diamonds that you used to know” on “Tubesoft.” The barren “Soft Polluted Blacks” slows and speeds in drunken time as Levesque sings, “Used to be good enough when she got sad,” as an errant amp buzz bubbles around him. Most of the songs build over downstroked electric guitars and a willfully linear beat, but “Leslie West” sways along like a country song, musically and lyrically; Levesque begins with the dismissive lines “Sometimes it’s nice/When we don’t talk/When you don’t show” before admitting, “I think I kinda miss you just the same” by the song’s end. Wheat’s romantic view may be dour, but some humor enters its peripheral vision, as in the witty “Karmic Episodes” (“You make passes like some football star”) and the sarcastic “Girl Singer” (“You’re the kind of girl, all I like/Girl singer/You can really rock like a boy”). The album’s highlight is “Summer,” a soaring, near-seven-minute, melancholic remembrance of times past (“Hey kid it’s summer again/Grow your hair and let your muscles show through/You’ve been sleeping all summer long”). Wheat may strive for anonymity, but its songs’ sentiments are universal.

—Christopher Porter