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Lauran Hibberd spares no punches on Girlfriend Material

"Girlfriend Material"

Release date: 22 March 2024
Lauran Hibber Girlfriend Material cover
22 March 2024, 09:30 Written by Christopher Hamilton-Peach

Waxing lyrical on pet peeves, from relationship woes to character stereotypes, Lauran Hibberd remains unfixed and unfazed in breezing through a diary of whims and hangups.

The Isle of Wight artist's skater rock via blasé tongue-in-cheek musings found favour with fans conscious of the throwback energy being channelled, with an interest in its open take downs of personality traits and the general maelstrom of life. With Garageband Superstar enjoying accolades on its release two years ago, Hibberd's debut presented an insight into her world, the ups and downs painted with unfiltered scuzzy punk pop peppiness, sonically aligned with its warts and all premise.

Despite its sunny surface sheen, the shadow of personal tragedy lies at the outset of Hibberd's sophomore follow-up Girlfriend Material, the passing of her father in the weeks preceding Garageband Superstar's debut prompting reversion to songwriting as a form of venting and reflecting surrounding emotional turbulence. "I Suck at Grieving" is a stark indicator of the album's ironic base, with the priorities and everyday inanities that get lost in the midst of such epochs. Hibberd zones in on coping mechanisms and the television habits of others, a playful lens on social rituals that has charm in its mildly jabbing cynicism: “I watch the Gilmore Girls for the tenth time / I stop at the episode Richard dies”.

From Hibberd’s initial slate of EPs, the influence of genre headliners such as Avril Lavigne and Blink 182 have remained obvious touchstones – nostalgic nods set to narratives deep diving into the modern challenges of early twenties life. This remains the case with Girlfriend Material, “90’s kid” leaning more into the latter in its cultural checklist treatment of the tail-end of that decade - albeit feeling nominally, in a stylistic sense, more an ode to the early noughties.

Where Garageband Superstar navigated similar themes, Girlfriend Material finds its own niche in embracing a heavier, less pop-oriented direction. The final three songs of the album, in some sense, figure as a triptych of Hibberd’s openness to new directions, duet “Pretty Good for a Bad Day”, featuring All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth, is empowered through the pair’s natural chemistry – a surging stadium-destined ballad that captures this flitting of styles, whereas “So Romantic” shifts through the gears in a more familiar full-throttle staple. “Not the Girl You Hope” is an acoustic comedown befitting an album that finds its roots in the solemn yet manages to uphold a sardonically carefree outlook.

Hibberd spares no punches in the vividness of her songwriting detail, there’s no time spared for melancholy, opting instead for a vein of life continuing despite its myriad setbacks. In doing so, Girlfriend Material sees shimmer traded for increased complexity alongside a confident pop-punk presence – one that defines the album’s major strength alongside a sharply served side-eye view of society.

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