Yellow #5 (Hopeless)
by Ewan Wadharmi
Anyone remember when Man… Or Astroman? sent a bunch of clones on tour to perform their songs? Yellow #5 is like that, but less entertaining. I think someone has secretly replaced Mustard Plug with Folger’s crystals. There are a slew of great third-gen ska records out, including ones by this crew. So it’s confusing why they’ve changed so much. Gone are the hooks and weird elements thrown in for spice. We’re left with the mustard water that sogs up the bread as your thumb squishes in. The album has occasional nerd-rock vocals that override the crunchy guitars. The horns are catchy in songs like “Get It Going On” and even sly on “You Want It.” Over time, the tunes do sink in more than the initial impression. There’s a subtlety that hails to ’80s non-punk ska. Still, uneventful lyrics and carbon-copy tunes mar the experience. These oldsters may head to the pasture when they hear the likes of The Code. Peers like the Bosstones and Skankin’ Pickle make far more engaging works than this. And you can get that sellout word out your mouth, because that little ska pie is cut into slivers. My pants are off to any band that plays the music they love. And because the rewards are fewer, ska bands have to love what they do to continue playing. Even if a ska combo strikes it “big,” they’ve got, like, 80 band members to feed.
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