Like many people, I first heard Uffie‘s quirky vocals on her collaboration with Justice, TThhEe PPaARRtTYY, over a decade ago. So how did she cope sans dancefloor during lockdown? The French-American artist, now based in Los Angeles, worked with Norwegian producer Lasse Lokey and the inimitable Chaz Bear (AKA Toro Y Moi) on this, her second studio album which, according to the promo blurb, promises to take the listener into a ”trippy” world, kind of a club Alice in Wonderland, if you like.
It starts off promisingly enough. mvp is like a sonic collision of dream pop and glitch music, with Uffie’s guileless bubblegum voice popping all over it to delirious effect. Then, she posits the question Where Does The Party Go? and the song is bittersweet, torn between the euphoria of 2am, and the 1pm ruminations on bad behaviour. “I’m a train wreck when I’m alone,” she sighs. We’ve all felt like that.
There are voice messages dotted throughout: Peaches (Interlude) in particular will make everyone laugh out loud, and Uffie herself sounds fun, when on good form. Her witty lyrics come across as neo-disco chants with Ze Records influences – the bassline of the seemingly insouciant song, Cool, could have come from their funkier acts – but there is an undercurrent of sadness churning away too. It’s as though her nights out are soaked in bravado, evoking the caustic twilight chronicles of The Specials, Robyn and Soft Cell, all of whom have documented club culture falling short. There’s even a soupcon of sad ska in Dominoes.
But for all of these great tracks, there are a few that feel less inventive, like Prickling Skin, Anna Jetson and Sophia. These suffer from being generic, ordinary sounding bangers. Uffie clearly has songwriting chops, and a sweetness along with her charisma. It would be nice to really hear her cut loose, though, and experiment after falling down the rabbit hole. I’d happily join her there.