Album Reviews

Lauran Hibberd – Girlfriend Material

(Virgin) UK release date: 22 March 2024

If you’re hankering for an Avril Lavigne revival then these likeable, fuzzy pop-punk songs with relatable lyrics might just be for you

Lauran Hibberd - Girlfriend Material Are you ready to bust out that tank top and tie combination? Happy to say “see ya later boy” to a Sk8er Boi? Turn the clock back to the turn of the century? Basically if you’re hankering for an Avril Lavigne revival, then Lauran Hibberd‘s second album Girlfriend Material could well satisfy that particular urge.

Despite the fact that Hibberd is just 26 years old, there’s a real nostalgic glow across Girlfriend Material – even to the point of including a song called ’90s Kid. Like her debut, Garageband Superstar, it’s an album packed with likeable, fuzzy pop-punk songs with relatable lyrics that seem to have been plucked from the pages of her journal.

It is, admittedly, not the most original sound in the world. Jealous, in particular, pays so much ‘homage’ to Lavigne’s Complicated that you’d swear it was a cover version at first listen, and 2nd Prettiest Girl (In The World) nods very heavily towards Wheatus‘ Teenage Dirtbag. Yet the fact that Hibberd wears these influences on her sleeve means that these songs are, for the most part, very immediate.

Hibberd’s lyrics give her songs an added depth as well. Opening track I Suck At Grieving talks about the recent death of her father, and how she deals with the depression that comes with grief (“stuck in bed with no good reason, I’m not ill and I’m not bleeding”), how to spend an inheritance correctly and even how to conduct a Gilmore Girls binge by stopping before the death of a major character (the second time in less than a year that particular TV programme has been referenced in song, following CMAT‘s Vincent Kompany).

Happy For You is a track you could imagine Hibberd duetting with Olivia Rodrigo on, a break-up anthem with some bitingly sarcastic lyrics directed towards an ex, while the aforementioned ’90s Kid talks of making mixtapes, namechecks both Spice Girls‘ Wannabe and Nirvana‘s Smells Like Teen Spirit and has a huge, singalong pop-punk chorus. It’s not the most heavyweight of material, but it’s a lot of fun.

The album is weighed a bit too heavily towards the retro-pop sound, so it’s refreshing to hear something like Anti Fragile, a delicate acoustic ballad with some introspective lyrics – it’s a more melancholy sound that suits Hibberd well, especially when revisited on the album’s final track Not The Girl You Hoped. They’re both good examples of how Hibberd’s songwriting can sound when she’s not imitating her early 2000s pop-punk influences.

With most of the tracks on Girlfriend Material clocking in at less than three minutes, there’s no chance of this album outstaying its welcome, even if there’s a deliberately lightweight air to more than a few of its songs. It’s certainly a confident step-up from Garageband Superstar and if more of Hibberd’s musical personality is allowed to shine through next time around, she could produce an even better album.

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Lauran Hibberd – Girlfriend Material