Cher Lloyd

Sorry I'm Late

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    8
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Cher Lloyd's sophomore full-length album, 2014's Sorry I'm Late, finds the former British X-Factor contestant maturing just enough from her 2011 debut, Sticks and Stones, to show growth, while still retaining all of her bright, infectious pop sensibilities. Produced by Savan Kotecha and Shellback, the album also features songwriting contributions from a handful of inspired sources including punk-soul diva Beth Ditto and Swedish super producers Rami Yacoub and Carl Falk, among others. As with Sticks and Stones, the trick with Sorry I'm Late is that while it’s an unapologetically slick, uber-produced pop album, it never overwhelms its subject's firecracker personality. Lloyd remains her cocksure, and cockney-accented self, able to flow between hip-hop- and dancehall-inflected party tracks ('Killin' It"), Washed Out-style electronic dance anthems ("Alone with Me"), and earnest acoustic ballads ("Goodnight"). She has a big voice that can crackle with swagger one second and soar with sweet resonance the next, and she uses it to great effect throughout all of Sorry I'm Late. More often than not, she comes off as a pint-sized Dale Bozzio bursting through these neon-colored, Bollywood-sized productions with an exuberant, irrepressible energy. Even when she liberally apple picks her ideas from the tree of retro-pop music culture, as she did while reworking of Neneh Cherry's "Buffalo Stance" for "Playa Boi" on Sticks and Stones, it just works. This time around, she reinvents Skee-Lo's "I Wish," turning it into a slyly deprecating volley of female empowerment. If she split public opinion during her time on the X-Factor and Sticks and Stones did nothing to sway you over to her camp, then Sorry I'm Late probably won't win you over either. That said, in the 21st century world of extreme pop divas and powerhouse productions action-packed with hooks, beats, and hashtagged lyrical content, Lloyd comes off as a natural, a likeable girl next door with a queen-sized attitude and voice to match.

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