Promoted as the “album to save ska-punk,” Yellow #5 is Mustard Plug’s first full album in five years. These six-piece ska veterans from Grand Rapids have been relentlessly touring the U.S., Europe and Japan for more than 10 years now. High energy, zany humor and non-stop dancing have been the mark of Mustard Plug shows for an entire decade. This new album follows a ska renewal, with giants like Reel Big Fish and Mighty Mighty Bosstones releasing CDs over this past summer, and a new Less Than Jake CD on its way.
With five years between CDs, Mustard Plug seems to have stuck to their original third-wave ska sound of catchy horns, energized guitars and fast-paced bass rhythms. The 11 tracks could have fit into any of their earlier releases, except for the more experienced and concise musicianship. Some listeners may be disappointed with Yellow 5 – the once raw, undiluted sound that made Mustard Plug so popular has slightly eroded.
Their experience is shown in the mature harmonies behind “Already Gone.” Older fans will not be troubled though with more faster tracks like “Safe and Your Secret” that keep with their frantic style. In a few tracks, they try to live up to the claim as the savior of ska-punk by attacking the more prominent emotional rock genre. “Rock ‘n’ roll is here to make you dance and shout / they cower in the background and they sneer and whine,” they sing in “Get It Goin’ On” calling out Bands like Dashboard Confessional and Saves the day.
After five years of anticipation, Yellow #5 still leaves much to be desired. This album does not fall to par with their previous releases, but for many starved Mustard Plug fans, anything after five years is enough. In addition, with such a long period between releases, one would think they would be more productive than 11 tracks with under a half an hour total playing time.