Brat princess Cher Lloyd spreads her wings and reveals a more grown up side on her second album: Sorry I’m Late.
The Malvern-born star rose to fame on The X Factor four years ago when she was just 16. It was clear from the get-go that Cher’s feisty personality and unflappable ability to pour herself into both rap and sung verses would earn her young fans around the world.
Her debut album Sticks and Stones pitched her as a petulant teen star, spoon fed on power pop melodies of Spice Girls and B*Witched. It was an expertly masterminded project with rock solid hits that catapulted Cher to the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic and sold over 700,000 albums worldwide.
Where Sticks and Stones sounded too eager to please with its bratty persona, Cher’s sophomore effort doesn’t try as hard.
Since we last heard from her, Lloyd has not only entered her 20s – she has gotten married, parted ways with Simon Cowell‘s Syco label, and toured the UK and America. You can hear the impact and challenges of these new experiences reflected in Sorry I’m Late.
It is clear that touring and getting more live performances under her belt has helped Lloyd grow more confident in her vocal abilities.
The lead single ‘Sirens’ is Cher Lloyd like you’ve never heard her before. Here she seizes an emotive skyscraping chorus with the fervour of a Demi Lovato understudy, soaring over sun-streaked guitars, strings and thunderous drums. This is by far the most outstanding Cher Lloyd ballad moment since she covered Shakespeares Sister‘s ‘Stay’ on The X Factor.
Watch the dramatic video for Cher Lloyd‘s ‘Sirens’:
Sorry I’m Late also sees Lloyd co-writing every track on her album for the first time.
There are romantically-charged moments like ‘Bind Your Love’, Lloyd’s defiant ode to young love. The star, who got hitched last November, sings: “Ooh, I don’t care what anyone says, ’cause you and I are bigger than this, and I’ll be there just keeping my arms wide open. Ooh, they can try to pull us apart. I’ll fight them all, I’ll cover your heart…”
There is a certain wide-eyed gusto to defying the odds in love that is quite touching and Disney-like. But if you think about it, ‘Bind Your Love’ is really a love song that’s relevant to relationships of all ages. As Whitney once sang, “This is for the lovers just getting on their feet, this is for the lovers ’bout 20-years deep. This is for you.”
If you think married life means a settled Ms Lloyd who gets turned on by picking out towels and curtains – think again.
On ‘Dirty Love’ she reminds her lover to spice it up and embrace his inner Tarzan. She spits: “So sick of the good boys, I need a wild boy! Something unpredictable. Go ahead and be a caveman. Give me all your dirty love!”. The track, co-written by Max Martin (the man behind iconic hits for Britney and Backstreet Boys), sounds like a signature Cher Lloyd hit.
Listen to ‘Dirty Love’:
Sonically, Sorry I’m Late isn’t innovative by any stretch. It is a cohesive clutch of radio-friendly tunes with guitars and malleable pop beats. The production at times recall the commercial efforts of Lloyd’s American contemporaries Demi Lovato and Karmin.
This album represents the girl’s coming of age and maturity, but it has been carefully presented in a way that doesn’t compromise the essence of ‘Cher Lloyd: the popstar with spunky rap sensibilities’.
The singer reunites with hit makers Shellback and Savan Kotecha, who wrote and produced her breakthrough singles ‘With Ur Love’ and ‘Want U Back’. There are unmistakable touch points that pick up where Cher left off with those two hits, such as the brilliant ‘Killin’ It’ (co-written by ‘Stay High’ singer Tove Lo), which sounds like a dead ringer of ‘With Ur Love’.
Elsewhere, the rowdy and sweary ‘M.F.P.O.T.Y.’ sounds like Cher Lloyd doing a McBusted or Avril Lavigne record, shutting down a guy who can’t take a hint. Suddenly, we are back to the same barking ferocity of ‘Swagger Jagger’.
Listen to ‘M.F.P.O.T.Y.’:
You hate to admit it but the girl has nailed it again. She will always be like Marmite, you either like her or you don’t, but Sorry I’m Late feels like a more universally likeable effort without compromising Lloyd’s take on pop.
There is a sense that we are hearing an album that feels closer and truer to her, without completely rejecting the fun Syco-constructed image she got her foot in the door with.
Stand out tracks: ‘Sirens’, ‘Dirty Love’, ‘Goodnight’ and ‘Alone With Me’.