Cher Lloyd, Sticks + Stones’ – First Listen

Sticks and stones will never hurt her. Let’s see what Cher Lloyd thinks of our verdict on her debut album in another First Listen

Here we go then — the soundtrack to a million parental migraines, weighed up in handy track-by-track format. Cher Lloyd, lest we forget, is the sassy, ‘urban’ one from last year’s edition of The X Factor — think a cross between Lady Sovereign and, er, Billie — and therefore it stands to reason her debut album will have more spunk than you can shake Russell Brand’s winkie at. Are you ready to get pearl necklace’d?

Cher Lloyd

‘Grow Up’
Cher sticks it to the wrinklies with an ode to being young and useless at rapping: “Please don’t say a thing Mr Bean / every time you talk, grr, it makes me wanna scream!” Sounds like a ragga-flavoured Nicki Minaj for the tween market, with a highly improbable guest spot from Busta ‘In It For The Love’ Rhymes.

Oh hang on, here’s a good line: “We’re gonna be the generation that makes everything explode / and when I say explode, I don’t mean that we’re using bombs”. Ladies and gentlemen, the power of metaphor!

‘Want U Back’
And then we go from the ridiculous to the sublime — eh well, sort of — with a peachy-keen pop number that goes pining after an ex, Cher drawing comfort from the fact that, even if her beloved is going out with someone else now, at least they’re only getting sloppy seconds. Aaah!

‘With Ur Love’
Another perky tune with crunkin’, stutterin’ beats and big doe eyes on the chorus from Cher. Also features a ‘soulful’ turn from Mike Posner (me neither) on the middle eight, in which he talks about getting to third base with his date — possibly Cher, but it doesn’t bear thinking about too much.

Anyway that’s two boss tunes from three. Is there a chance this could end up being an unexpectedly ace pop record? The suspense is killing you, I can tell.

‘Swagger Jagger’
Oh well. We had a good run for a while back there, didn’t we? Cher’s first single is just as cringey as you remember, like bad Ting Tings with added sirens, shit lyrics and Yates’s Wine Lodge trance overtones. So quite bad then.

It’s quite a strange choice for Cher’s ‘people’ to have picked, in that it seems tailor made to get up the noses of everyone who hated her in the first place. Can you base a career on being annoying? I guess Jedward haven’t gone away yet.

‘Beautiful People’
Having already proved her zen-like mastery of R&B, bashment and Pharell-style minimalism, this time Cher turns her hand to maudlin indie balladry with the help of American indie stars Carolina Liar (me neither).

It’s OK, if rather perfunctory, stuff: “It’s beautiful people who get whatever they want / and it’s beautiful people like you who suck the life right out of my heart”. I wouldn’t know about this type of thing, ‘cos Christina Aguilera told me I am beautiful. Does this mean I’m part of the problem or the solution?

‘Playa Boi’
A scandalous lift from Neneh Cherry’s eternally awesome ‘Buffalo Stance’ (yeah! We’re updating urrrrban gal-pop Y2K11 stylee!) here, but this is wickedy wickedy wack and no mistakin’. The track is plagued by a litany of vocal FX lifted straight from TOTP circa 1989.

No playa boi can win my love, it’s sweetness that I’m thinking of”, admonishes Cher. “He got a lean in the gangsta stance / he needs to rock the sickest brands”. Somewhere off in the distance, the boy at school who got ribbed for wearing ‘Adidas’ five-stripe is rejoicing.

Cher Lloyd

This is a bit more like it. A solidly-crafted little tune from ‘Whip My Hair’ mastermind Jukebox, nicely spruced with cut-up strings and a very believable vocal from Ms Lloyd. The chorus is cute as a button, too. Although we do catch her laughing at her own boast that her flow’s “hot — like steam from a coffee pot”. That’s the second time she’s laughed at her own jokes on this record: bad form, Cher!

‘Over The Moon’
Fucking hell, she’s making with the dubstep now. Listen, it’s five o’clock on a Sunday afternoon and I’m hungover to shit, what do you want me to tell you here? That this song sounds like a car door being repeatedly slammed over my head? Oh, alright then.

‘Dub On The Track’
4th-placed X Factor contestant + grime kids prattling on about Simon Cowell + chainsaw dubstep wobble = new low point in cultural history, right? Well, not quite, but this is pretty clueless anyway – exactly the kind of focus-group play that makes people grumble about stuff like this. Makes us wanna listen to Katy B to remind ourselves UK pop can keep it classy when it wants to.

‘End Up Here’
This is all pouty sadness like Beyoncé at her primped and preppiest, and makes us think Cher could make a genuinely useful pop star if her peeps concentrate on giving her quality songs to work with, rather than randomly flitting quirkfests packed full of ‘cheeky’ (read: annoying) asides.

Well, it’s a bit of a dog’s dinner if we’re being honest, but there’s also enough good stuff on ‘Sticks + Stones’ to suggest Cher could have a bright future ahead of her as a ‘recording artist’, as Cowell himself would have it.