Thursday, 10 May 2007

Wheat- 'Medeiros'

‘Hey Kid/It’s summer again/Grow your hair and let your muscles show through’.

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s a certain subset of American indie-rock which just perfectly matches late summer evenings, tired but happy, watching smoke from the campfire drifting up to join the few clouds in an otherwise perfectly clear sky. Both gently euphoric and wistful, there’s a cryptic wisdom in this music that I don’t think I’ll ever tire of. Pavement’s ‘Range Life’ and a lot of Grandaddy’s early output is the sort of thing I’m talking about- spontaneous yet timeless, music that sounds like a perfect accident.

‘Medeiros’, Wheat’s debut album, stands proudly among its better-known brothers in this respect and is every bit their equal. From the dusty scatters and hums of the introductory ‘Preprise’, through an all-too-brief 8 songs, until the final notes of the electric piano of the ‘Reprise’ fade into static, for all it seems like the components of the songs have been scattered without care, there’s not a single note or word out of place. The way that ‘Karmic Episodes’ builds into a gentle hysteria, static and feedback gradually clouding the song, the unsteady push and pull of the guitar in ‘Soft Polluted Blacks’ against a wall of white noise, or the way the subject of ‘Girl Singer’ ‘keep(s) it really raw/like a boy’, every song ,without exception, is enthralling.

The record sits in the great tradition of American songwriting: each song is a vignette of a small-town America forever preserved in an endless moment. There are echoes of Tom Petty in the chug of ‘Death Car’, of Neil Young in the knowingly throwaway lines scattered throughout: ‘You’re making passes like some football star/I’m turning over like a racecar’. The album at times verges on sentimentality- no, scratch that, it’s an unashamedly sentimental album, but one which cannily folds in a good dollop of experimental attitude to counterbalance what might otherwise be a little *too* sweet.

And more importantly than that, each and every song is just a great great song.

And here is one of them: Karmic Episodes

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