White Plastic Deer

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Although it's always pointed to by record reviewers and other rock history nerds as one of the classic albums of the first punk wave, Wire's Pink Flag has directly influenced comparatively few later acts, in comparison to, say, the Ramones and Clash debuts. Even many of the bands who have claimed to be strongly influenced by early Wire, like Fugazi and R.E.M., have transformed that influence into something that doesn't bear much of the group's singular sound. East Vancouver punk trio Mongoose don't specifically list Wire among the couple dozen vintage punk and new wave acts in the "influences" section of their MySpace page, but debut album White Plastic Deer smacks hard of its prickly art-punk aesthetic. Fewer than a third of the album's 14 songs break the two-minute mark, and even more crucially, Mongoose are clearly unafraid to break with punk orthodoxy: witness the brief flamenco-style acoustic interlude in the middle of the breathless "Better You Than Me," a bizarre sonic detour that somehow actually works in the context of the song. Elsewhere, "I Hate Cigarettes" is a minute-long mashup of straight-edge Minor Threat lyrics and choppy Mission of Burma guitar noise, and "Let's All Go to the Restaurant" is as poppy and playful as vintage Mr. T Experience or early Redd Kross. Mongoose clearly have decided to throw off the limitations of punk subgenres: White Plastic Deer isn't hardcore, street punk, pop-punk, metalcore, or anything else that needs its own tag, but an expansive overview of punk styles past and present, shot through with bratty insolence directed not only at the usual targets, but at any scenester with a limited view of what punk is or isn't. So perhaps Mongoose have never actually heard Pink Flag themselves, but they've learned its lessons well.

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