Oddly engaging anti-pop pop from the eclectic, reclusive, semi-beloved Boston band Wheat. “House of Kiss” gives off a bright, circular vibe, and is probably as catchy as a song can be that so little resembles anything we might picture as a “hit song.” The structure is slippery at best. The song centers around an insistent, run-on lyric in which the narrator assures his partner or lover that he’s paying attention, really and truly. This seems neither like a verse nor a chorus, and it repeats, through the song, a total of seven times in just over three minutes. At first listen this “Don’t think twice” lyric seems all that makes an impression; the accompanying instrumentation appears unremarkable on the surface—guitars, bass, drum, mostly—and everything unfolds in 4/4 time.
But there are these in-between sections that trouble the flow of the song, some instrumental, some vocal, featuring melodies that lag well behind the beat. Keep an ear on the bass, which plays deft, fluid lines underneath the repeating “Don’t think twice” section but constricts itself during the slow sections. Eventually a sense of intertwining between the song’s vague parts emerges, most notably when one of the slower melodies is used underneath the main theme as a kind of counter-melody at 1:58. We eventually hear something resembling strings; and then a perky synthesizer riff. But for all its vagaries, the overall feeling is of a song marching on, of a magnet-like return to the “Don’t think twice” lyric. Eventually it occurs to me what a strong backbeat (i.e., emphasis on the second and fourth beats) there is and yet how the lyrical flow pays no attention to it. And this—the repetition over the ignored backbeat—may be what in the end lends “House of Kiss” an amusement-park-ride-like sense of flying around in a grand but yet almost dizzying circle. You get off a little wobbly but you kind of want to go back and have another ride.
A band since 1996, Wheat is neither prolific nor forthcoming, but the duo of Brendan Harney and Scott Levesque has appeared abruptly back on the scene late in 2011 with a “double a-side” single featuring “House of Kiss” and “The Used 2 Be In Love Blues.” Note that there is now an official third member of the band, multi-instrumentalist Luke Hebert. Two more double a-sides are due out in the reasonably near future, while the band’s sixth full-length album is moving somewhat more slowly towards a 2012 release, maybe. Wheat was previously featured here on Fingertips way back in 2004 (around the time of their one sort-of-hit, “I Met a Girl”) and also in 2007. Thanks to the band for the MP3 here.