Lauran Hibberd: Garageband Superstar (Virgin) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, September 27th, 2022  

Lauran Hibberd

Garageband Superstar


Aug 19, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

With noughties pop rock nostalgia in full swing, there are plenty of rising new acts coming out of the woodwork aiming to be the next Avril Lavigne. On the surface, Isle of Wight singer/songwriter Lauran Hibberd could fit nicely into that crowd, especially given her talent for massive guitar-laden hooks and relentlessly catchy melodies. However, when you dig further into her long-awaited record debut, Garageband Superstar, a picture emerges of a far more interesting artist. Even as Hibberd evokes nostalgia for ‘90s slacker pop and noughties pop rock, she infuses well-worn tropes with newfound wit and fresh songwriting talents.

The foundation of Garageband Superstar is a three-part formula, one that Hibberd rarely strays from. The first and most notable part is Hibberd’s talent with a melody. Hibberd’s choruses are roaring candy-coated affairs that marry glistening pop melodies and a punchy punk undercurrent, landing somewhere between indie punk, power pop, and unfiltered pop heights. Though she’s flirted with writing pop songs on her previous EPs, tracks like “Hot Boys,” “Garageband Superstar,” and “I’m Insecure” see her leaning into that talent more than ever before. Yet, the results also remain refreshingly tongue-in-cheek, with Hibberd practically winking her way through the entirety of “Hot Boys.”

Secondly, Hibberd balances out those pop instincts with a particularly blown out and noisy streak, ensuring even the most sickly sweet of melodies are laced with some crunchy power chords or buzzing distortion. Except for the understated penultimate track, “Slimming Down,” everything feels turned up to 11; the hooks, the feelings, and especially the guitars. Plenty of other songwriters in her vein are nailing the slick pop production, but few are infusing it with the same kind of bite and guitar-laden theatrics that Hibberd does.

“Rollercoaster,” “Get Some,” and “Hole In The Head” particularly deliver on this front, putting forward plenty of gnarled guitar tone, shouted choruses, and swaggering stomping rhythms. Meanwhile, “Last Song Ever” provides a suitably grand finale, filling the track with arena-ready guitar soloing as Hibberd sings about a party at the end of the world.

Finally, pulling it all together is Hibberd herself. Her vocal style remains distinctive and charming, all the while striking a playful balance between snotty punk, upbeat pop energy, and a conversational speak-sing in the vein of fellow Isle of Wight outfit Wet Leg. She even verges on rapping on “Still Running (5K),” managing to fit in well with the ‘90s scratching from DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit before the track descends into a maze of fuzz-laden guitars.

Meanwhile, Hibberd’s songwriting equally evokes the ‘90s in both her punk-tinged aesthetics and easy-going slacker pop charm. Throughout the record, Hibberd walks the line between a biting sardonic wit and moments of unexpected confession, delivering a tone that feels somewhat like a cult classic coming of age film from the 2000s. At moments, Hibberd can be very funny, whether she is sketching a biting character portrait of an “Average Joe,” trashing an obnoxious step mom with “Step Mom,” or dreaming of overnight fame on “Garageband Superstar.”

Yet, these funny edges also belie plenty of heart-on-the-sleeve songwriting from Hibberd. She has a way of writing about well-worn topics from fresh angles, like when she puts on a brave face and lies her way through a break-up on “That Was a Joke.” She also manages a few moments of sincere confession, especially on the record’s latter half. Though they are layered into her shout-along choruses and self-effacing banter, she drops the facade on “I’m Insecure” and “Slimming Down,” allowing real glimpses into the artist behind all the noise.

Together, Hibberd’s pop talents, boisterous presentation, and unique charm come together for a debut that bursts with personality and irrepressible energy. Even when some of the record’s hooks or jokes don’t completely land, Hibberd manages to set herself apart. In today’s oversaturated music landscape it’s often said that the worst thing you can be is boring. Fortunately, Garageband Superstar never is. Most importantly, it doesn’t seem like Hibberd is aiming to be the next Avril Lavigne, or Weezer, or Green Day. Rather she’s on her way to staking out her own voice in the world of pop rock. She may still be writing tunes on Garageband in her bedroom, but these songs are built for big stages. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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