❉ Dubstar’s long-awaited fourth record, succinctly entitled ‘One’, is their finest album to date, writes Ange Chan.
After a somewhat lengthy hiatus, darlings of the nineties Britpop scene Dubstar, who describe themselves as “a glorious stain on the bed linen of British culture, and the last word on decadent electro-pop”, have released their first new material for 17 years.
The band, comprising the ever-effervescent Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie, formed in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1993, and signed to Food Records at the height of the Britpop era. Together, they had monumental chart success with eight Top 40 singles including such memorable soundtracks to the 1990s as Not So Manic Now and Stars and three albums (Disgraceful, Goodbye and Make It Better) before eventually splitting at the end of the 1990s, in the millennium year.
Their long-awaited fourth record, succinctly entitled One, is regarded as their finest album to date, and it has been produced by Youth. The first hint of what to expect from Dubstar these days is teaser track Waltz No.9, a Byrds-inspired, psychedelic folk song which is reminiscent of their 90s hit Just a Girl She Said with its sweeping introduction and gentle tones of La Blackwood coupled with seemingly soothing lyrics delivered with a sucker-punch message.
A second single released off the album is entitled You Were Never In Love where Sarah appears to be singing from a celestial perspective, and assuring her generation that everything’s going to be alright, will be released on June 8th.
One was released on Friday 12 October and other gems from its eminently lovable confines include Love Comes Late where our protagonist finds herself in the midst of a mid-life crisis, having found love when almost too old to appreciate it. That old Dubstar vibe is just as prevalent as it ever was with a crooning chorus that will haunt you forevermore. The lyric “Leave your perfume on my skin so I can breathe” sums up the decadent yet bittersweet nature of the song and its delivery, and I can imagine Blackwood in my mind’s eye mooching around her solitary apartment, lamenting on a newly-found relationship when seemingly hope had long since walked out of the door. However the official video delivers a somewhat more sombre visual…
The second track on the album, Love Gathers with the lyric “By the end of the week, it seemed my pain was the secret that you just couldn’t keep/The disapproval amassed like an insidious gas – I gave up trying to sleep/ And so it seems they were right, I’d rather not have this shite while waiting by the school wall” where Sarah is having a relationship with one of the mums on the school run.
The second single off the album is You Were Never In Love which again deals with the theme of the true meaning of love, and questions previous relationships in all its guises, over the one currently being enjoyed.
The full track-listing for One runs as follows: Love Comes Late; Love Gathers; Torched; Please Stop Leaving Me Alone; I Hold Your Heart; Waltz Number 9; You Were Never In Love; Locked Inside; Why Don’t You Kiss Me; Mantra.
As yet, there are no plans to tour the record live but we wait in hopeful anticipation.
❉ Dubstar – ‘One’ is out now to stream, download, buy on CD, vinyl and cassette from Amazon and other retailers. Listen to ‘One’ here https://dubstar.fanlink.to/one
❉ Ange Chan is a poet and novelist. Her latest poetry collection Songs of Sorrow and Heartbreak was published in October 2017 and her third novel, Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots is currently a ‘work in progress’