Record Review - 2 November 04 2004

With Power, Q and Not U’s third full-length, the D.C. trio takes a much needed turn toward substantial songwriting. Previous releases No Kill No Beep Beep and Different Damage suffered from too much filler choking up the pace. Power keeps things moving all the way through with a buoyant and refined tone. The group’s hereditary Dischordian demeanor is confined to such poignant and politically charged songs as “Wet Work,” “Book of Flags” and “Tag-Tag,” carrying on with the D.C. lineage from whence it was spawned. But the record’s true charge lies in a pristine discovery of its own personality and sidestepping its own baggage.

Slowing down the post-punk velocity and balancing raw electronic textures against stripped-down arrangements and an introspective tenor, Q and Not U has definitely come into its own. Giving a nod to the post-disco, art-damaged new wave of groups like Pere Ubu and the Talking Heads as much as it does the post-hardcore energy of Fugazi, Power transcends the group’s prior limitations. Vocalist/guitarist John Davis has become comfortable with his terse falsetto voice. “Wonderful People” establishes a top-heavy whirr that’s upheld until the very end. “7 Daughters” incorporates a digital Velvet Underground drone, and “District Night Prayer” could have been lifted from some future version of Brian Wilson’s SMILE. Pigeonholed early on as a torchbearer for the Dischord Records legacy, Q and Not U delivers on that promise, but refuses to stay in one place for too long, bearing the weight of any other expectations.-- Chad Radford

Q and Not U plays the Drunken Unicorn Mon., Nov. 8, 9 p.m. $8.