Review Summary: Former X Factor contestant surprises some, with an album that doesn't make you want to throw yourself out of a moving vehicle.
How do you even start reviewing an album like this? As anyone who is even aware of the X Factor in Britain (ie. everyone), music eminating from the flux of karaoke singers tend to loiter the charts post series. They tend to range from the pretty awful to the eye-goungingly painful, the musical equivalent of Un Chien Andalou. Occassionally, a great song will creep through, namely 'Bleeding Love' by Leona Lewis.
Of course, anybody who heard Cher Lloyd's first single proper 'Swagger Jagger', would know that this was not going to be the case. Like a student who has drunk away his whole year only to realise his finals start tomorrow, it is trying to cram in too much, throwing in R&B, dupstep, house and bubblegum pop into an unruly mix and it is no way near good enough to pull it off. It ends up sounding cluttered, trying to meet everyone's needs without actually giving them what they want.
However, there is a reason why I haven't completely denounced this album completely. See, there are some genuinely good pop songs that give me hope for Cher Lloyd. First of all - where most X Factor endorsed albums have an over-emphasis on lifeless balladry, Sticks + Stones places the emphasis on being bold and brash, something quite brave but which works with the artist. When she initially auditioned with a Soulja Boy song on X Factor, the judges and the public saw something which has been missing from the show for years - attitude - which inevitably wouldn't be enough to win, mainly due to the public's hunger for another Joe McElderry.
The first three tracks on the album are catchy, current, and suit Lloyd perfectly. The first track, the bratty 'Grow Up', features a surprisingly decent (if brief) cameo from Busta Rhymes, who unfortunately sounds like retirement will be sooner rather than later. The second single, 'With Ur Love' is probably the strongest song on the album, and is probably the closest she gets to emulating the heights of her hero, Nicki Minaj.
A couple of other decent songs appear, especially 'Superhero', with a sample that sounds uncannily like the music from The Sims, but she goes and ruins it with 'Dub On The Track', which is as vile as it sounds. It sounds unfocused, messy and another example of trying to appease as many people as possible. It's a shame, because some of the material on here is very strong, but it is let down by the constant genre shifting. From this first album, she has a long way to go to reach the dizzy heights of her idols, but it may surprise you.