Ottawa trio White Wires really want you to think they like the Ramones — for starters, there’s that blitzkrieg of an album title, as well as a suggestion to go to the beach, the obligatory pop-punk song about high school and, hell, even an encounter at 53rd and 3rd. And while there’s no doubt that the Wires — singer/guitarist Ian Manhire, bassist/singer Luke Martin and drummer Allie Hanlon — love Da Bruddas, on their sophomore offering, WWII, their flag is firmly, and winningly, planted in the power-pop-class-of-’79 soil originally claimed by the likes of the Undertones and the Pointed Sticks (yes, it’s a mere half-a-jump from the Ramones to the ‘Tones, but if you keep track of these things, you know there’s a difference). And, as a band that has called both Dirtnap and Douchemaster Records — two of the music world’s chief proponents of modern-day power-pop-punk — home, these Wires know of what they speak.
Needless to say, there’s not a whole lot on WWII that thousands of bands haven’t already said on the topics of girls, fun, girls and being a teenager, but White Wires do it so joyously, and with such big hearts, it’s impossible not to be won over by them. Opener “Let’s Go To The Beach” is a fuzzed-out stomp, completely un-ironic in its suggestion (despite, or perhaps because, they hail from Canada) and gleeful in its delivery — shit, going to the beach with your friends is fun. Elsewhere, girls are driving front-man Manhire crazy (in both the good and bad ways): he’s head over hells in love on “Just Wanna Be With You”, though he’s trying to keep cool with the shrugged-off addendum, “You should know”. On the dizzying, soaring, perfect encapsulation of the first flash of love, “Hands”, he admits “you got me going circles in my mind, girl!” And on “Outta My Mind”, the Undertones-iest songs on an album full of them, he just throws up his hands and concedes defeat: “I just can’t get you outta my mind!”
Just to mix it up, and in a move that truly separates this band from their present-day soundalikes, Manhire takes a break from swooning long enough to offer some self-improvement tips on “Be True To Your School (Til You Get Kicked Out)” — which, with its follow-your-heart advice and great solo actually lives up to its clever title — and the cheerleader-y, go-start-a-band rah-rah “Popularity” (“If they like you, they like you; if they don’t, that’s great, they won’t be giving grades that carry weight”). This is a band that knows the value of not keeping its light under a bushel.
Not a note is wasted: None of WWII‘s dozen tracks crack the 2:45 mark and the whole album is over in 26 minutes. You’ll want to relive this WWII as much as the History Channel does the other one. Do I even need to tell you that this one is way more fun?