Release Date 10/04/2019
(Father/Daughter Records) NACC
Lisa Prank is a true-blue romantic. In fact, “I’m very preoccupied with romance,” songwriter Robin Edwards admits. On her second full-length for Father/Daughter Records, Perfect Love Song, Edwards acknowledges the ultimate joke of love: that there is no perfect, so you’ll get tripped up while chasing it—but what else could possibly be more rich, more exhilarating, more everything, skinned knees be damned? Stitching together pop-punk panache and pillow talk introspection, Perfect Love Song finds Lisa Prank not in pursuit of the flawless impossible, as the title may suggest. Rather, she’s interested in the entire experience of love and learning through it. “I never learned how to get mad,” Edwards sings on the reflective “Get Mad”—but she did learn how to write totally gratifying pop songs about it. Perfect Love Song is an album that takes a soft-focus gaze at romance’s sharpest points and edges, both the exciting peaks and the scary cliffs.
As Edwards was navigating a drawn out, Lifetime-movie level heartbreak, she found herself drifting back towards the home she had in her friendships. She moved back into her old room in storied Seattle punk house, Spruce House, sharing a door with Tacocat’s Bree McKenna (who’s also her bandmate, along with Julia Shapiro, in the supergroup Who Is She?). She’d knock and ask McKenna for feedback on songs, who wound up playing bass on the record. To produce, Edwards tapped close friend and indie pop legend Rose Melberg of Tiger Trap, The Softies, and Go Sailor. Melberg’s artistic alignment and personal closeness to Edwards gave her near psychic insight into Lisa Prank’s sonic goals, but at enough remove to provide breakthroughs to Edwards at stuck points (Melberg also co-wrote “Telescope,” and sang harmonies on several tracks). It was a collaboration that felt like coaching, leading her achieve her ideal polished-punk sound, alongside Ian LeSage who engineered and mixed the record at the Vault Studios. Recording was fun, too. Friends were around, creating the kind of lighthearted, mutually supportive feeling one needs surrounding them feel like themselves again after retrieving their heart back from a breakup. Lisa Prank’s last record, Adult Teen, used a Roland MC-505 drum machine, for Perfect Love Song, she traded it in for real life drummer, Tom Fitzgibbon.
Writing Perfect Love Song was Edwards’ opportunity “to personally say all the things that I wanted to say, or wish I had said.” In “Scream the Truth,” a gaslighting extinguisher anthem about reclaiming your sanity, she gets to be mad on her terms: “I wasn’t losing my mind,” she sings. Says Edwards, “it’s about being frustrated seeing someone else navigate the world as a very surface-level nice person who is performatively feminist and social-justice minded, but knowing the truth of how they treat people in their personal life.” The opening track, “Rodeo,” likens the searing, sinking-in feeling of a post-fight realization—“‘cause ‘I don’t wanna be in love’/means I don’t wanna be in love/with you”—to the dangers and desires of the spectacle of love. “By now I know/this is the rodeo I chose,” she sings, electing to get back on her horse and ride, acknowledging the pain that’s part of that game.
“I wish a different emotion was so alive and exciting to me,” Edwards laughs, “but love is just the one that feels so visceral and consuming.” Perfect Love Song explodes the roller coaster snapshots of romance in bursts of poppy neon bright color, with Edwards’ cheeky perspective polished to full pop-punk shine. And the mission of that genre, one could argue, is to keep on bopping along through the bullshit of life. To stay buoyant, to find fun in the big what-ifs and whatevers. It what keeps the dream Lisa Prank afloat: as she sings on “Constellations,” “still I keep on hoping this is some perfect love song/and we’ll go on and on and on, and on and on, and on.”