If Saint Etienne encapsulated the sound of the big city, then Dubstar were the sound of the suburbs; sad and disconnected, wearing imitation designer clothing from the local market. The trio formed in 1993, signing to Food after they sent in a demo consisting of nothing more than a cover of Billy Bragg's St. Swithin's Day (a full version of which can be found on their first album, Disgraceful). This is their debut single, although it was also their fourth, reissued after they picked up popularity during the latter half of 1995.
Is it asking too much of my favourite friends
To take these songs for real?
Stars is about escape, and of failure. The dream of being taken away from a dreary existence in a backwater town and becoming something special. Her friends look on in quiet contempt, silently wanting her to fail, as she tries to escape through her singing. Even her lover doesn't believe that she can succeed. Perhaps she's singing on an empty stage; perhaps the stars in question are the performers, and only after they've gone out, can she venture out and practice for a fairytale ending that is never going to come.
What makes the single creepy is Sarah Blackwood's delivery. It's disinterested, sounding flat and dejected apart from the chorus, when she's fantasising about her escape. The music seems to owe a lot to ambient bands like The Orb, giving the song a very electronic and elegiac feel. The repetition of certain sound effects throughout helps to underscore the narrator's dissatisfaction with her dreary suburban existence.
If that sounds rather miserable, well, it is. But sometimes you need to hear the sadness within, and this record manages to capture a powerful frustration with reality. It also served, as this type of record often does, as a career map for Dubstar themselves. After the initial hits, the second album flopped, as did the third. The band's working relationship became strained, and they eventually decided to disband in November 2000; the stars having gone out for them after seven years of being together.