Q AND NOT U

"Power"

Dischord

The punk-funk revival has made the warmed-over '80s style commonplace, but Q and Not U is here to demonstrate that it doesn't have to sound that way. The D.C. trio's third and best album, "Power," is dynamic, galvanizing and unpredictable. Rather than ride the same groove into oblivion, as many of their New York peers do, the band's music turns on a succession of dimes.

Such jittery songs as "Wet Work" and "X-Polynation" multiply the threesome's limited array of timbres -- drums, two guitars and three voices, plus occasional bass, keyboards and some sort of flute -- by arranging them in ever-shifting combinations.

"Power" is more upbeat than 2002's "Different Damage," which was a mild disappointment, but that doesn't mean it's blithe. As band members John Davis, Harris Klahr and Christopher Richards chatter briskly, their free-ranging lyrics admit plenty of misgivings: "And then a shot rang out," "new terror, loose graves," "something beautiful gets shot down everyday," "eat the rubble and ruin." The musicians don't offer any prescriptions, perhaps to avoid being trapped in the sort of roles they list in the album's complex number, the exhilarating "Tag-Tag." But Q and Not U's songs clearly deliver one message: Don't stand still.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Friday at the Black Cat with Manhunter, Food for Animals and La Mi Vida Violenta. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Q and Not U , call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8128. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)