LLoyd’s debut album, Sticks + Stones, made her a pop sensation in the US. With hit singles like “Want U Back” and “Swagger Jagger,” her sugary yet sneakily edgy pop music pushed her up the charts, where the album peaked at the ninth position. But three years later, the now-20-year-old has more experience, a more refined look and even got married — and she wanted to bring some of that change into her new album.
There are a number of tracks here that show Cher’s growth and maturity. The lyrics show that’s she’s not just about crushing on the boy next door and hanging with her girls. Instead, she exudes honest vulnerability. First there’s “Sirens,” the album’s second single. We can’t ignore the fact that this is one of the tracks on the album that highlights the perfect blend of Swedish production and radio-friendly electro-pop melodies. “Sweet Despair” also has that heartbreaking ballad-meets-EDM mood similar to the vibe we get from Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper.” Like “Sirens,” “Sweet Despair” is to a guy who’s left her for someone else. The line, “Go on, put the knife in” adds to the drama that she’s trying to convey.
Cher puts herself out there more on “Goodnight,” a stripped-down ballad that sounds very delicate. With the soft tone and sweet lyrics, it could serve as a lullaby that she, being the eldest of four, could sing to her three younger siblings.
While Lloyd blooms on this album, she can’t leave every element of her young musical self behind. This is very apparent in the brat-pop of “Killin It” and “M.F.P.O.T.Y.” Both celebrate being young, and let’s be real, Lloyd is still a young’n. Although we get treated to her spitting skills as well as her singing, “Killin It” might be one of the weaker tracks on the album. As for “Motherfucking Party Of The Year,” her snappy attitude results in that anthem that every group of girlfriends can blast to keep the boys at bay while getting down on the dance floor. And who can blame Lloyd for penning a track that pretty much tells all the creepy guys at the club to stop their grinding ways?
Unlike Sticks + Stones, Sorry I’m Late features just one collaboration in “I Wish” with T.I. The track describes everything a girl would want to say to that crush that she feels is too cool for her to date. With a playful beat that’ll get you moving, T.I. is on hand as the guy who’s the friend and the the boyfriend. Since it’s Tip, his rhymes sound much cooler but give a different perspective to a song by making it more a love triangle than unrequited love.
Sorry I’m Late may have really been worth the wait. While it’s still that fresh and carefree pop music that’s sure to be on every tween’s playlist this summer, it does have elements that show Lloyd as a blossoming young woman. And with Swedish mastermind Shellback serving as executive producer, there’s a variety of sounds on the album, offering a song for just about every type.
Best Listened To: While getting ready for a girls night out to celebrate singledom and forget about the guy who broke your heart (probably via text).
Full Disclosure: When “Swagger Jagger” hit the scene, I was ready to write this X Factor UK alum off, but Sorry I’m Late shows her real potential as a pop star with staying power.
Idolator Score: 3.5/5
— Emily Tan