Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain future, is the 11-track debut 1995 album Disgraceful by Dubstar.
The album opens with their biggest hit Stars. This track was first to be released, but it only reached #40. It wasn’t until it was released in 1996 as the 4th from the album, that it helped to catapult Dubstar into chart-buyer consciousness.
The song opens with some warm synths and a linger bassline, before Sarah Blackwood‘s vocals make light work of the lyrics, in a perfect balance of music and voice, although with a Sarah Cracknell (of Saint Etienne) style. This track is perfect.
Second single Anywhere is up next. This track is far more bouncy and up-beat than Stars, although the verses feel a bit unmemorable compared to the chorus. This track reached #37 in the UK.
The third track is also our first album-only track – Just A Girl She Said. The song opens with accordion, before ushering in some strings and down-tempo vocals. This track reminds me of The Cranberries, and inexplicably Irish.
Up next is the fifth and final single from the album, Elevator Song, which seems to have a Jamaican feel to it. This feels like a fairly weak track.
The Day I See You Again is up next, and this is a much nicer track. It uses harps, strings, and is much gentler than anything so far on this album. It also gives Sarah the chance to show off her vocal range, with some beautifully breathy/dreamy vocals.
Sixth track, Week In Work Out, continues this vocal range, in this wandering track, complete with spoken section. I find this track quite dull.
Thankfully, their biggest hit is up next – a cover of the Brick Supply track Not So Manic Now (here’s their original version, which is a bit more up-tempo), which is a delight to listen. It’s verbose lyrics, with Sarah’s vocals and harmonies, and the gentle synth/guitar music, is perfect.
Strangely titled Popdorian is next, and this is a more up-beat song, although somewhat novelty.
Not Once, Not Ever feels like the single that should have been released, it has an up-tempo beat, a nice vocal range, and is pretty catchy too.
Dubstar cover Billy Bragg‘s St Swithin’s Day track next, and naturally Sarah’s vocals are far more gentle and stable than Billy’s hard, rasping vocal reaches. They also make the song a little more mellow, with a string section, but add a really nice bassline. It’s an odd choice for a cover, but it’s nice enough.
The title track Disgraceful closes the album, which starts off with some wandering synths, before switching to an almost pop-ballad style. This is a really nice song – gentle, slow, and again featuring Sarah’s wandering vocal range.
Sadly, I found this album to be fairly boring. Stars, Not So Manic Now, and Not Once, Not Ever, really stand out, but the rest of it feels too mono-tone and sluggish to really catch my ears and memory.
Where are Dubstar now?
After this album, they went on to release a second one titled Goodbye, which fared better, reaching #18, despite its singles not reaching the same level of success. A third album was released in 2000, before EMI issued a Best Of in 2004.
Whilst rumours have often suggested that a fourth album is in production (as far back as 2008), the band appear to be not so manic now.
The band’s official website appears to be dormant.
POP RESCUE RATING:
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 2 / 5 – Stars and Not So Manic Now save it.
- 1995 UK CHART POSITION: #30
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.99 from a British Heart Foundation store.