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Cher Lloyd arrives on U.S. shores today with her debut album, “Sticks + Stones.” Followers of the U.K. version of "The X Factor" will recognize her name from her stint on that show, which led to her signing with "X Factor" creator Simon Cowell’s Syco label.
Fellow U.S. “X Factor” judge L.A. Reid picked Lloyd up for the U.S. in hopes of having his first true breakthrough act since taking over Epic last summer. Sadly, she’s not going to be it...at least not with this album.
Lloyd is not untalented (and yes, we realize that’s damning her with faint praise), but there are so many hands in the mix here in the desire to genetically engineer a pop star that it’s hard to tell where she ends and the producers’ studio synthetic wizardry begins. All the A-List studio kings are here, whether it’s Max Martin, Shellback, Red One, Mike Posner or Savan Kotecha.
Producer/writers Shellback and Kotecha are responsible for first single, the stompy “Want U Back,” which has sold more than a million copies in the U.S. The song reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, driven more by sales than radio play.
At various times, she’s either imitating Nicki Minaj (“Behind The Music”) or Avril Lavigne AND Ke$ha ( “Oath”), The Spice Girls (“Swagger Jagger”), Beyonce AND Rihanna (“End Up Here”) or , in perhaps the biggest stretch, M.I.A. (“With Ur Love”). Guess what? They all do themselves better than she does.
The 19-year old has an sassy playfulness, exhibited on the catchy “Superhero” and bouncy, rapping “Grow Up” featuring Busta Rhymes. She can also evoke a Katy Perry-like appeal on ballad “Beautiful People” featuring Carolina Liar’s Chad Wolf. However, overall “Sticks + Stones” feels like a soulless endeavor that’s so manufactured, anyone hoping to discover who Lloyd is as an artist will have to wait until the next album...if there is one.