Q and Not U have no time for refrains. They say what needs to be said and then move on to the next song. While most artists rely on a repeated chorus for catchiness, Q and Not U’s songs are catchy because of their powerful drum beats and spunky guitars that yank you onto the dance floor.
In songwriting, the refrain helps give the song focus and reinforces the central theme. It is easy to be skeptical of the bands that do not use this method, because the suspicion is their songs will lack focus. But Q and Not U know how to skip the refrain and still concentrate on a theme that pulls the song together. For instance, “Soft Pyramids” on their last album “Different Damage” begins with the line “This soft is building the softest buildings/The soft is raising the firmest ceilings” and ends with “The softest blackout is still soft and black, outside and in.” Q and Not U’s songwriting is ambiguous but the way they morph an image throughout the song and toy with words, keeps their songs captivating.
Following “Soft Pyramids” is the stomping “So Many Animal Calls.” The guitars nervously twitch while pounding drums march through a disturbing hospital scene. Each Q and Not U song expands on very different imagery that helps clearly distinguish one track from the next.
“Different Damage” shows Q and Not U has assertively grown into their sound since their first album, “No Kill No Beep Beep,” and the departure of bass player Mathieu Bourlique. Drummer John Davis said the band is now “more free to do what we want. We felt restrained before.”
The major difference between “Damage” and “No Kill” is the percussion. On “No Kill” it was clear Davis kept a hard-rocking, dance-punk beat, but it was overshadowed by messier guitars. The clutter is cleared on “Damage” and now Davis’ beats are more varied and challenging, though still danceable. Coinciding with their stop at the Triple Rock, their new single “X-Polynation/Book of Flags” comes out on Dischord this week. Davis said the band is continuing to move in the direction they were going for with “Damage,” but with more aggression. Since “Damage” came out about one year ago, Q and Not U should be bursting with new material worth checking out.