After a maternity leave that pushed back its release, Uffie arrives with her debut album in tow, the cryptically titled Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans. Even more puzzling? It's actually very good. Production-wise, the aforementioned Oizo and Feadz are both at the helm, putting their respective stamps on five tracks each. There has been an obviously conscious decision to leave behind the noise of songs like "Ready to Uff." Nonetheless, Oizo's productions are still the most instantly recognizable and peculiar ones here, especially in the way he (mis)treats his sampled material and twists Uffie's voice left and right. Recent single "MCs Can Kiss" and the quirky "Neuneu" both have the kind of jazzy samples Oizo toyed with on his last studio album, but it's on slower explorations such as the serene "First Love" and the weirdly experimental and offbeat "Our Song" that he truly makes Uffie shine, his playfully insolent handling of her voice fitting the naively superficial content of her lyrics.
Unsurprisingly, the most suprising tracks are the ones on which newest collaborator Mirwais (Madonna's producer circa the Music/American Life albums) adds his impressive wizardry. Current single "ADD SUV" is a twirling hip-pop escapade, while the title track is a truly astonishing take on '60s-era girl-pop with a highly polished and digitalized laptop-bound wall-of-sound. Even better is "Illusion of Love," a live favorite on which Mattie Safer guests: built around what sounds like a slowed-down Altern-8, early '90s rave sample, Mirwais helps turn Uffie into a full-on electro siren with a beating heart. The awkward cover version of Siouxie and the Banshees' "Hong Kong Garden" is the album's only true misfire, largely due to Uffie's overall infantile delivery contrasting with the less rudely irreverent mood displayed elsewhere.
Everyone has already written off Uffie. Yet while she was away touring, partying and maybe even raising her newborn baby, her sound has evolved to the point that she might be the most credible face of Ed Banger. Justice are busy trying to re-invent themselves (and washing away the shame of remixing U2) and SebastiAn has visibly lost it in his heavily compressed and filtered world. Somehow, it's just so happened that the freshest thing that the label has to offer right now is self-reflexive pop with a self-obsessed edge. It helps that it rarely feels this diverse, jovial and inviting.