Mike Watt famously said that the Minutemen "divided the whole world into two categories: there were flyers and the gig. You're either doing the gig, which is like one hour of your life or everything else to get people to the gig. Interviews were flyers, videos were flyers, even records were flyers. We didn't tour to promote records, we made records to promote the tours, because the gig was where you could make the money."
I'm not using this quote to say that Q and Not U's efforts are necessarily motivated by the almighty dollar but much of their work has always sounded confined and stifled on wax. This leads me to believe that Q and Not U's strength and immense popularity lay not in their *ahem* complex, thought-provoking recordings but in their, by all accounts, incendiary live show. Though I haven't actually experienced the group in person, I get the feeling that Q's records, like those of the Minutemen, act also as flyers for their gigs.
Power, flyer #3 for the Q, isn't much of a departure for the group, taking the angular guitars of No Kill No Beep Beep, the hipster funk of Different Damage, and combining them with that signature DC/Dischord sound and some newfound Kinks-esque pop tendencies to create an entirely fresh (sort of) sound for the group. It's certainly admirable to see a group this popular trying something new with each release (or flyer) but, in short, Power simply lacks the pop and sizzle that characterized much of their earlier work.
One problem Q have carried over from Different Damage to this new record is the group's desperate lack of bass! It simply boggles the mind as to how such an overtly funky, dance-y group can function without one. Songs like the indie-disco "Book Of Flags" (which sounds a little like Emergency And I-era Dismemberment Plan) and the opening "Wonderful People" (which should come pre-packaged with every hipster's sex mix on his/her iPod) are practically begging for some low-end action. If you listen carefully enough, you can hear Bootsy poppin' and slappin' along to "Wet Work". It's more than just the dearth of bass that's keeping Power from packing a punch- it's the lack of truly memorable material. Songs like "Collect The Diamonds" and "Wet Work" start off strong, weaving some interesting synth or piano parts into the standard Q rhythmic batter but neither really seems to go anywhere. The entire effort smacks of a rush job.
Q and Not U are progressing with each new release and I truly respect them for that, but I found Power as a whole to be very much on the tepid side (it's almost excruciating how much the middle third drags on). The group's excursions into power-pop seemed haphazard at best and, overall, I wish I had a bit more than the trio's irritating falsetto vocals to hang my coat on. Maybe I'll change my tune once I see these guys live but, for now, I think I'll just stick to my Meters records when I need my fix of the funk.
6.0 / 10
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