In early 2006, 18-year-old Anna-Catherine Hartley arrived with her debut single as Uffie, the boastful, baby-voiced novelty rap “Pop the Glock.” MySpace virality led to bonafide underground stardom: Uffie signed to trendy French electro label Ed Banger, and another song, “Robot Œuf,” was included in the soundtrack for a Pedro Almodóvar film. But as her fame inched closer to the mainstream, Uffie disappeared from view. Her debut album, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans, arrived in 2010—three years behind schedule—with a guest appearance from Pharrell. In February 2012 she announced that she was working on a second album, but just over a year later, she declared her retirement.
Sunshine Factory, Uffie’s long-awaited second album—10 years delayed, to be exact—marks a self-appointed departure. “I’m really getting frustrated with being associated with bloghouse,” Uffie told NYLON (which identified her as “a bloghouse-era icon”). “I know that’s where I started and I know I took a break, but I am putting out substantial work with dope people.” Produced mainly by chillwave heavyweight Toro y Moi, Sunshine Factory steps away from the self-effacing sleaze of Sex Dreams into a purgatorial nightclub haze. Uffie explains it, rather vaguely, as a nightclub-themed fantasy of post-pandemic “escape”: an “alternate reality” in which “all the misfits can gather.” The album’s barrage of incongruous alt-rock guitars and convulsive electroclash synths is dizzying enough to open up a wormhole, but in all its bright, noisy, unfocused glory, Sunshine Factory is undeniably a good time.
Throughout the album, indie rock and shoegaze influences butt heads with electro-house beats and avant-LMFAO lyricism. It works often enough: Though opener “mvp” never builds to the satisfying intensity of its Strokes-esque bassline, its pulsing rhythm is undeniably catchy. At other points, it falters; the shoegaze-y crunch of “prickling skin” falls apart once Uffie’s fuzzed-out vocals enter the picture. Her aughts-core, reverb-heavy sing-raps feel anachronistically out of place, particularly when the instrumentals lean toward ’80s and ’90s indie rock. It’s when Uffie breaks away from these self-imposed genre constraints that her music really takes on new life: The frenzied drums and breakneck babbling of standout “dominoes” imbue the song’s ’00s teen-movie guitar licks and fizzy hi-hats with an unexpected hyperpop sparkle. Peaches’ introductory voicemail embraces the hilarity of being the messiest one at the function: “Hey Uffie…I’m not gonna make it to the party. I got my dick stuck in the door and I can’t get it out! Ughhh.”