As we leave our teens and 20-something years behind, there's an increasing and ever-present societal pressure to compartmentalize everything about our youthful pasts. Sure, pop culture these days relies on nostalgia to a sickening degree, but even the tokens that are acceptable to hold onto are supposed to be done with a somewhat non-seriousness. You're expected to have moved past all those adolescent feelings.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the woman who playfully named her musical project after the world's foremost Trapper Keeper artist lives a life that fully embraces those feels. At 30, Lisa Prank's Robin Edwards still crafts pop-punk songs that radiate hopeless romantic optimism. Edwards is the type of sincere soul that wears a colorful "Prank" tiara at every performance, self-identifies as a "failed figure skater," makes zines to honor her idols (see the Sheryl Crow tribute Summer of Sheryl), creates joke bands with her friends based on missed connection listings (Who Is She?) and will occasionally dabble in tarot reading.
The songs on her new Lisa Prank album, Perfect Love Song, spring forth like entries in a key-locked diary. And after years of navigating the Seattle music scene mostly as a solo performer — one who'd perform her lovelorn lyrics and power chords over drum machine backing — Lisa Prank has finally morphed into a band.
"I wanted to make a full band record," Edwards says. "[But] the songs are still written the same way: Me, in my bedroom, feeling feelings on my guitar."
Perfect Love Song's inciting incident was the opposite of what the title may suggest. After a nasty breakup, Edwards moved back into the semi-famed Seattle punk house Spruce Haus. Her room shared a door with one of her best friends, Tacocat bassist Bree McKenna. As Edwards began filtering her emotions into songs, McKenna was mere feet away to help flesh out the tunes with bass lines. The pair added drummer Tom Fitzgibbon to the mix, and soon Lisa Prank felt less like a solitary endeavor and more a team effort.
The trio eventually descended into the Vault (a Seattle studio inside an actual bank vault) along with producer and twee-pop stalwart Rose Melberg (Tiger Trap) to bring Perfect Love Song to life. Part of Edwards' songwriting magic is her ability to make even angry breakup songs like "Rodeo" and "Cross My Fingers" ring with an uplifting there's a light at the end of the tunnel aura. It's a musical frustration release, without bringing the listener down. And under the guidance of Melberg, the whole album shimmers; whether it's the quiet tenderness of "Telescope" or little instrumental flairs like the Marine Girls-esque claves and cabasa percussion on "Work Hard."
Fittingly, while pop-punk is a genre that's often expected to be discarded post-teenage years, it remains a comfortable home for Edwards to express herself.
"I think about it like that old saying about country music, 'It's three chords and the truth,'" Edwards says. "Pop-punk has a lot of the same formulas. With pop-punk it's more like, three — sometimes four — chords and the truth."
As Edwards prepares to hit the road with a four-piece Lisa Prank lineup for the first time, her spirits are high, thus her charmingly sincere M.O.: Keep pushing forward, because no matter how many cruddy relationships one endures, the promise of true love will win the day.
"I do feel hopefully romantic," Edwards says. "Maybe it's because I've watched too many rom-coms, or maybe it's just the way I am. I would've thought that my hope in love would've been shaken by now, but it seems like I still have it." ♦
Lisa Prank • Thu, Oct. 31 at 8 pm • Free • 21+ • Lucky You Lounge • 1801 W. Sunset Blvd. • luckyyoulounge.com