Mustard Plug - In Black and White (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Mustard Plug

In Black and White (2007)


So Reel Big Fish delivers a double album, No Doubt hints at a return to their roots, Less Than Jake just may head back to an independent label, Big D and the Kids Table releases a traditionally ska-laced effort to critical acclaim and now Mustard Plug is unleashing a new full-length, all in 2007. Is third wave ska the new black?

Eh, not really.

In Black and White is roughly what you'd expect from a veteran ska-punk act delivering their first album in a considerable amount of time (Mustard Plug's last proper, Yellow #5, dropped in 2002): totally competent, fairly well-written tunes that sound almost as good as they would have in 1997. Mustard Plug haven't exactly sharpened their hooks, pulled any new tricks or refined any of their tendencies entirely, but In Black and White is a "nice," decent effort for a genre that's got another two months for its long-awaited, serious jolt.

Mustard Plug's horn section is as tight as ever, offering alternately smooth and punchy layers to opener "Who Benefits?," which benefits itself from some standardized upstrokes during the verses, a mildly catchy chorus and some socially assertive subject matter. "Over the Edge" is cool too, since the band's surprising aggression causes it to bear similarity to the Suicide Machines (with a brass section, anyway). "Something New" and "Real Rat Bastard" are a little questionable since the lead vocals come off like the likely horrific love child of Fat Mike and Bowling for Soup's Jaret Reddick. "Copasetic" delivers the strongest chorus on the record, wrapped up in an invigorating, energetic flow. A couple songs pass by without so much as an interesting moment, though ("You Can't Go Back," for one).

In Black and White is consistent for the most part, merely hurt by a few soft spots that the band falter on. But when they are consistent, Mustard Plug do manage to write some solid ska-punk jams that prove there's still plenty gas in their tank.

Hit Me! Hit Me!

Who Benefits?
Time to Wake Up
Something New
On and On