John Samson, leader of Winnipeg's Weakerthans, is one smart guy. He writes literate, detail-rich songs that name-drop Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, that imitate Martin Amis' reverse-chronology novel Time's Arrow, that are full of self-deprecating introspection and leftist politics. Reconstruction Site (Epitaph), the Weakerthans' third album, dabbles in alt-country and folk-based ballads, but its heart is in tuneful punk-rock anthems. While the music builds to predictable but effective climaxes, the lyrics toy with unexpected complexities. The rousing "Plea From a Cat Named Virtue" adopts the perspective of the singer's complaining feline, and a potentially too-cute conceit turns into lacerating criticism: "and listen, about those bitter songs you sing, they're not helping anything." But "Virtue" is wrong: The Weakerthans' ambitious songs help raise the standards for shamelessly intelligent rock-and-roll.