If you spend a minute gazing at every piece of art in the Louvre with absolutely no breaks to sleep or eat or use the closest Parisian toilette, it would take you just over two months to complete the task. Now, I posit that if you sit someone down and make them listen to a playlist of every song ever written about love, that person would perish of old age before the last track.
This doesn’t mean that musicians are done singing about love or that we’re done listening, though. For Robin Edwards, better known as Seattle’s pop-punk princess Lisa Prank, the subject is an obsession of sorts, hence the title of her latest album: Perfect Love Song. Like all good LPs on matters of the heart, it was conceived after a breakup. “I wish a different emotion was so alive and exciting to me, but love is just the one that feels so visceral and consuming,” she says.
Thankfully, Edwards makes the potentially trite feel fresh again with her lively lyrics, focusing as much on her own emotional journey as on her romantic relationships. While some of the songs begin to sound the same—brimming with bright power-pop chords and drummer Tom Fitzgibbon going hard on the high-hat—each one invites you to sing along, wistfully thinking about the latest person who broke your heart.
“Ignore It” is a major exception, though, with silvery guitar edging into post-punk territory. Edwards sings of love in terms of every day, simple moments on the track, admitting that she doesn’t want to give up on the life she envisioned with her partner: “A dog and pancakes in the morning / With you that didn’t seem boring.” Both “Telescope” and “Work Hard” are some of the softest tunes, skipping out on the drums and instead floating on dreamy guitar. For a romantic, Edwards has an incredibly grounded perspective on the effort that relationships require, showcased on the latter. “I say love is the job everyone wants / I know I do / And baby I’ll clock in / With you,” she remarks. The record’s musical palette may feel like it’s ripped from the soundtrack of an early aughts teen movie, but this isn’t puppy love she’s singing about.
Edwards finds some of her meatiest moments on the album when showing love to herself. On “Get Mad” (with an intro that will have you thinking of Blink-182’s “All the Small Things”) she struggles with expressing her own hurt, admitting “I never learned how to get mad.” Women are born into a world where our pain is seen as lesser or, even worse, expected, and so many of us wrestle with how to voice our own discomfort. Edwards shines a light on this, later convincing herself to air her grievances—“Say it out loud / It won’t burn your mouth”—while also trying to find happiness on her own terms (“I’m living on these little signs / Believing in the magic I can find”). She allows herself emotional catharsis on “Truth About You,” which swings in on a crunchy guitar riff and is “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.” Her delivery is usually plucky and sweet, but she breaks the mold here, yelling out, “I wanna scream the truth.”
Love songs can easily collapse when they devolve into self-pity (see Pitchfork’s devastating review of Hobo Johnson’s latest record), but Edwards manages to steer clear of overly indulgent wallowing. Sure, she may ask predictable questions like “Will I ever be enough for you?” on “Need Too Much,” but Edwards is clearly learning from her latest heartache and becoming the master of her own destiny. On “Cross My Fingers,” she lists all the ways she tries to manifest good in her post-breakup life (albeit in a pretty twee-witch way): “I cross all my fingers / I knock on wood / I light ten candles / I draw more cards / Delete your number / I ask the stars.” She ultimately ends the album on a hopeful note, revealing that she’s content on her own—“The moon is walking me home tonight / I’m starting to think everything’s all right”—but her romantic spirit is far from broken. “Should we meet in your dreams or in mine?” Edwards says invitingly. She may still dream about romance, but on Perfect Love Song, Lisa Prank shows that she’s walking into her next relationship with eyes wide open.