The Massachusetts-born art-pop band Wheat has followed a curious arc over the course of its three albums. The group's 1998 debut Medeiros was the result of a year's worth of bedroom recording, and it had the handmade charm and niggling impact of countless indie-rock projects. For 1999's Hope And Adams, Wheat collaborated with Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann, who helped tease out pretty melodies and pump in blood, for what proved to be one of the richest, most affecting releases of recent years. Wheat spent the next three or four years learning that it didn't want to deal with the snobbery associated with being a cult act. So, re-teamed with Fridmann for Per Second, Per Second, Per Second… Every Second, the band seems to be making a conscious effort to alienate its old fan base. "I Met A Girl" is polished and crazily hooky, consisting essentially of one memorable phrase ("I met a girl I'd like to know better / but I'm already with someone") repeated and strung together with wild, effects-aided interludes. It's a rare pop gem, but it also sounds a little like an especially fizzy John Mayer track. Still, Per Second's commercial modern-rock punch isn't always redeemed by great songwriting. About half the record consists of the kind of fragmentary lyrics and melodies that sound obliquely meaningful in a washed-out, low-key context, but sound pretty thin when overwhelmed by beefy production. But at least Wheat is peppier than the VH1 stars it's trying to mimic, and Per Second is enjoyable throughout, even when the songs dissipate at the fade. And though longtime fans may balk, sleek pop machines like "These Are Things" and "Some Days" are why radio was invented. A simple sentiment, a decent tune, and an up-to-the-minute set of sounds work well for defining moments, though not for achieving timelessness.