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'Still Valid'   

-  Label: 'Self Released'
-  Genre: 'Indie' -  Release Date: '4th July 2016'

Our Rating:
This is the sixth studio album by a band led by a man who once aspired to become Peterborough's very own poet laureate (he came second in a competition that would have won him this accolade).

It is described as a 'greatest hits' collection covering songs from the past 4 years, eleven random but still valid pieces written for the various high and lowbrow projects Mark John Hibbett has been involved in.

He is a graduate of Leicester's De Montfort University and his varied CV includes writing and performing credits in six musicals at various fringe festivals. This goes some way to explaining why each song on this collection is either a story in itself or could be part of a bigger one.

Musically speaking, Tom McClure's fine fiddle playing gives a nice twist to what is otherwise fairly straight Indie rock.

Hibbett writes topical, 'British to the core' songs full of bitter sweet observations about his life as a grown up and some other stuff about when he were just a lad.

The latter is most fully documented in The 1980s How It Was in which he recollects just how bleak and unglamorous that decade was.

The black and white photos by Chris Porsz (from the book New England) in the video for this song provide visual evidence to support this view.

Hibbett is aware that glossy magazine articles and slick TV documentaries exist to suggest that things weren't so bad and puts these down to the fact that "history's rewritten from the people who did best from it".

Other song topics include a celebration of lower division soccer clubs (In The North Stand), a treatise on the rottenness at the heart of the political establishment (Burn It Down And Start Again) and a confirmation that making music for the sheer fun of it brings its own rewards (We Did It Anyway).

Another noteworthy tune is 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 which presents an alternative bucket list with suggestions of ways to act like a twat before you are old enough to know better.

To offer a further possible Leicester connection, Hibbett's Validators are un-pop in much the same as way as the grossly underrated Yeah Yeah Noh were. Meanwhile, the outpouring of un-soppy tenderness in the love song (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock is on a par with the best of The Wedding Present's David Gedge.

Hibbett is an intelligent observer of life's ironies but also recognises that there's a fine line between being smart and smug. In That Guy he addresses his fear of turning into the kind of guy who appears on Radio 4 "comparing One Direction to Chaucer".

Needless to say, there's a strong novelty factor to this kind of material which won't appeal to everyone and is likely to totally bamboozle American listeners.

Thankfully, however, this is much more than just a series of one joke songs so they do bear repeating.

MJ Hibbett's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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