Album review: Lauran Hibberd – Girlfriend Material

Lauran Hibberd indulges in nostalgia with a vulnerable streak on album two, Girlfriend Material…

Album review: Lauran Hibberd – Girlfriend Material
Emma Wilkes

In some ways, there’s something escapist about Lauran Hibberd’s second album. With her fuzzy, nostalgic ‘slacker pop’ sound, she opens a portal to the 2000s and lives life as the main character of the sort of movie you watch at sleepovers growing up but then revisit endlessly as an adult. She’s certainly not lacking an identity, even if she’s indulging a feeling and a sound that’s quickly becoming the calling card of many new Gen Z upstarts.

Nonetheless, even if the follow-up to 2022’s Garageband Superstar isn’t wildly innovative, there’s a smorgasbord of catchy tunes fizzing with sugary energy. The aching pop-rock angst of Jealous smacks of Avril Lavigne’s Complicated in a rather uncanny yet purposeful way, while Mary’s sticky melodies are complemented by a clever twist on the usual heartbreak story. Sometimes, however, it’s a little saccharine. 90s Kid is an ode to teenage kicks that’s just the wrong side of corny – 'You make me feel young and stupid / Singing na na na na about the crazy shit we did' – as is 2nd Prettiest Girl In The World, both of which suffer by clinging to the retro teen pop vibe a little too tightly (and it’s not helped by the exaggerated, put-on American accent Lauran sings in).

In actuality, the Isle of Wight artist is at her best when her songwriting is more raw. Easily the best song on the album is opener I Suck At Grieving, a delicately upbeat yet powerful portrait of the way grief seeps into the cracks of everyday life – stopping a Gilmore Girls re-run before a major death, not knowing what to do with the money inherited from her late father, for example. The minimalistic closing track Not The Girl You Hoped is stunningly vulnerable, in which she confesses: 'I wear baggy clothes but they don’t hide my shitty jokes.'

Behind the cherry-scented sheen of most of the album is a big, open heart and when it comes to the fore, she’s stronger than ever. If she taps into that, she’ll have something brilliant.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Avril Lavigne, Hannah Grae, beabadoobee

Girlfriend Material is released on March 22 via Virgin

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