|The third time out for indie pop's dance-lite cover perverts has Dubstar refining their cotton-candy, melodic smacks with a higher sense of carbonated cheerfulness that should please fans not expecting all that much. The good news is that Steve Hillier and Chris Wilkie turn down the more string-heavy arrangements of old and a newborn sound of crunching guitars and rough beats certainly helps resuscitate the band from "poor man's St. Etienne" injuries. The bad news is that the band still sounds like they never stopped obsessing over the pop charts of 1985. |
The opening triumvirate of "Take It," "I," and "The Self Same Thing" is a splendid return to form, full of escalating siren smirks and euphoric blasts of air. Yet the album quickly starts gasping for breath. Sarah Blackwood's overly coached voice takes center stage in a huge number of mid-tempo ballads that attempt to fiddle with pop star prancing and sexual come-ons with awful lyrics like, "I'm the one that you knew/Cos I'm no one/With a great set of moves/And I can move it with you." Worse, when the band tries to regain their opening rhythm, they sound like either a female-fronted, Stigmata-era EMF ("Arc of Fire") or Shampoo ("I'm Conscious of Myself"). To think Dubstar started their career covering the obscure end of the 4AD discography, too.
At any rate, Make It Better is half-cocked: with the energy and chart-aping bop of the best of indie perfectionists, but also with too much dead weight when it tries to actually say something. One can't even call this sugary indie dance anymore. For better or worse, Dubstar is now "Sweet & Low."
DUBSTAR - Make It Better