Ottawa’s The White Wires have been serving up their kind of summertime pop punk since 2007—plowing through three LPs and 11 EPs along the way. Members Ian Manhire, Allie Hanlon and Luke Martin have been stalwart through it all, despite having their hands in a number of other projects. Drummer Hanlon fronts Peach Kelli Pop, bassist Martin keeps busy with Street Meat and Million Dollar Marxists and guitarist and vocalist (and Calgary transplant) Manhire is the face behind Going Gaga Records and its festival, and is responsible for the Rock N’ Roll Pizza Parties that eventually led to the formation of the band.
A year after said formation, the band recorded Girly Girly, and another year later reissued their debut as 2009’s WWI. The nine-track re-release set the tone for the albums to follow, from the title (giving us 20011’ WWII and 2012’s WWIII) to the short, near-two-minute bursts that have come to define the genre and the band’s particular take on it.
Then-titular track “Girly Girly Girly” offers up a taste of what it is that makes The White Wires so memorable—that mix of classic punk (comparisons to The Ramones feel inevitable with their first album) with a touch of surfer rock. Combined they’re an unstoppable force that drives you onto the dance floor to twist and move with the same purposeful energy as the music. The “oohs” on “Up Late” sees the band stretching out that mold as they “dream of power cords” and mix the frantic rhythm with the surprisingly melodic, lyric-free refrain. Things slow down just a bit with “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah,” signalling the darker turns that appeared more fully on WWIII.
It’s only a song later that “Ha Ha Holiday” spins this yet again and offers up the first real love song of the album, a romantic plea for a spontaneous vacation that should be irresistible to anyone listening. “In My Bed” proves just as heartstruck before moving into the oddly cathartic “Your Mother Says You’re Ugly” which glosses over the hurtful analysis with a kind of detached punk delight that makes the song a rousing call for moving on. “No Good for Me” offers the same comfort with it’s ever-so-slightly more melancholic repetition of “It’s not you, it’s just me” in a closing break up song that turns resignation and confrontation on its head.
There’s a reason The White Wires are continually referenced when talking about Ottawa’s pop punk scene—and the recent boom the band has been a significant part of. The exploratory WWI proved to be just the start of that contribution.
Top Tracks: “Girly Girly Girly”; “Your Mother Says You’re Ugly”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*