Q and Not U

Different Damage
/dischord; 2002/

rating : 5.5



more info:

In fact, I (Blacklisted Igor) am writing the review after a conversation with SEB WOOd. We often agree with each other and that’s why we consider ourselves as brothers most of the time. Well, the bastard tends to consider me as his social double, which enables him to go to shameful parties, act politely towards idiots, fools and arrogant people. Sometimes there is something of a coward about him.
Anyway, each year brings about its lot of confirmations, of surprises and of disappointments. The album which disappointed us the most in 2002 was probably Q And Not U’s second album. None of us wanted to review it right away after its release because we thought that we needed to listen to it many times in order to like it. I’ve just listened carefully to this album for the tenth time maybe and I still get an impression of disappointment. Why ? The only reason that I can figure out is that their debut album released in 2000 on Dischord entitled No Kill No Beep Beep was a terrific, fresh collection of emo songs full of energy which they had an indie feeling about them too (thanks to the vocals and the sometimes intertwining emo voices, e.g. ‘Hooray for Humans’). It sounded dirty but the production was nice.

It’s really difficult to review a new album without comparing it to the previous ones. We had this conversation with SEB WOOd. I started to reproach him with comparing endlessly albums by the same group. He answered:
“The past is not just history, it’s also an heritage. You can’t ignore it. You have to move forward but you have to keep him in mind the past.”
Indeed. So be it.

Q And Not U is now a trio.
This new album definitely lacks the energy of its predecessor. There are no longer songs with such energy as ‘A Line in the Sand’ and its clapped hands, ‘Little Sparkee’, great staccato emo/math rock riffs like on ‘End the Washington Monument’ or ‘Fever sleeve’. Most of the songs were definitely catchy (in a sort of emo-catchy way), for instance ‘The more I get the more I want’. There were quiet songs endowed with a soft singing on No Kill No Beep Beep as well (‘Kiss Distinctly American’) but they disrupted the fast tempos of the other tracks and worked as counterpoints while on this new record they tend to predominate over the fast ones. In addition, in their first album the songs nicely follow on from each other. The guitar interplay which made No Kill No Beep Beep so energetic has almost disappeared.
Different Damage opens with a pop song, which is surprising at first but let’s admit that there is something charming about it. Then ‘So many Animal calls’ comes in and reassures the listener since we find what was nice in No Kill No Beep Beep: staccato rhythm, energy, emo vocals and there is a surprising bass riff. The problem is that most of the songs sound like the first one (‘Snow Patterns’, ‘O’no’) or like down-tempo versions of their usual songs (‘Air Conditions’, ‘Meet me in the Pocket’, ‘Recreation Myth’). Moreover, the tracks reminiscent of the first album are particularly short (‘Everybody ruins’, ‘When the Lines go down’).    Let’s mention ‘This are flashes’ and what I consider a funny mockery of a famous reggae radio-friendly song (‘lalalalalalalalala’). ‘Recreation Myth’ could have been a catchy, idiosyncratic song if the tempo would have been faster.  
Actually, Different Damage is not bad at all but it remains a big disappointment to us in so far as the band has changed their particular energetic emo style. For those who didn’t know the first album, it will probably be pleasant.

Ps: Go read my review of The Pupils if you don’t know what the term ‘emo’ means.

-Blacklisted Igor

/feb 15th 2003/