Life, as Ronan Keating famously once sang, is a rollercoaster – you’ve just got to ride it. Over the last 12 months, Lauran Hibberd been strapped into a journey resembling hurtling along a loop-the-looping track, being thrown up to dizzying highs before plummeting to life-changing lows and back again.
In August 2022, as her hook-filled triumph of a debut album ‘Garageband Superstar’ was soaring into the UK Top 40, she was grieving for her father, who’d died in the weeks ahead of the release. “A lot of stuff happened to me around that time – I lost my dad, I went through my first big break-up, I was living on my own for the first time,” she reflects now. It would have made sense if this intense period of grief, change and adaptation had left the 26-year-old needing to hit pause and focus on something other than music for a moment.
Writing, though, became a way for her to deal with and continue processing the things she was going through. As she re-entered sessions in the studio, her second album ‘Girlfriend Material’ “just fell out” of her. “It felt like it needed to happen. I felt so much freer and a bit more capable of writing about certain topics than I did before,” she reasons. “It’s like, for the first album, someone sent me to Spain without me knowing any Spanish, and I’ve been like, ‘I’ll figure it out’. This time, I’ve had a year of learning Spanish, and I can ask for the time.”
Now more confident and comfortable in the language of songwriting, the new album takes the foundations Hibberd started laying on ‘Garageband Superstar’ and builds them up several accomplished storeys. The tongue-in-cheek humour that won her praise from the likes of DIY, NME, Rolling Stone UK, Kerrang!, Radio 1 and more is still present, but it’s joined by new layers of nuance and candidness – think songs that can make you laugh, cry and feel less alone, all within under four minutes. Sonically, too, she’s entering new ground, bringing together forever influences like Avril Lavigne, Weezer and Green Day with the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Liz Phair and Taylor Swift.
The path to ‘Girlfriend Material’ began with ‘2nd Prettiest Girl’, a neat stepping stone between the first album and its successor, in both sound and subject matter. It’s quintessential Lauran, distilling the moment a date told her she was “probably the second prettiest girl in the room”. “I went home and I was like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me? As if he’s gone in and scanned the whole room and been like, ‘Yeah, she’s probably number two’,” she recalls. “The funniest thing about it was that I said, ‘Thank you’, as if he’d just paid me the biggest compliment.”