“Change is the better part of me,” sings Scott Levesque on Wheat’s fifth disc, “White Ink, Black Ink,” and the Boston band could not have delivered a better mission statement. Following the autumnal, Dave Fridmann-produced 1999 disc “Hope and Adams,” Wheat signed to a major label and delivered “Per Second, Per Second, Per Second … Every Second,” a thoroughly melodic and commercially unsuccessful brass-ring grab. “White Ink, Black Ink” is the second disc in Wheat’s indie retrenchment, and the duo of Levesque and Brendan Harney are absolutely killing here, creating a disc that is as adventurous as it is surprisingly accessible.
“White Ink” begins with “HOTT,” in which Levesque sings about life’s flux periods against a galloping combination of processed beats, Harney’s furious drumming and a wall cloud of tempestuous sonics. “Change Is” puts the band in perspective as the anthem builds a head of steam, with Levesque’s guitars achieving orchestral density. Throughout “White Ink,” Wheat finds pleasing ways to layer its noises, almost always culminating in an earworm melody or hook.
Central to these chorales of distorted grace is an ever-present insistence on great songcraft, so even if Wheat initially impresses with its intriguing instrumental combinations, there is always a song in the middle of the flash and fire. “White Ink, Black Ink” might not settle anything about whether Wheat has a governing style, but it proves Harney and Levesque will try everything to achieve that sound, whatever it might be this time.