Photo by Kelton Sears

The Lo-Fi Longing of Lisa Prank

Talking teen feelings and tarot cards with Seattle’s premier pop-punk prom queen.

Sitting cross-legged on her bed, Robin Edwards is reading my tarot cards.

“These are all super-posi cards,” she exclaims, flipping over the ones I’ve chosen on her floral bedspread. Her room, adorned by Spice Girls dolls, a stack of VHS tapes, a pair of rose-print Doc Martens, and a stray LaCroix can or two, could stand in for a teenage bedroom on the set of a sitcom. Three other tarot cards bearing the likenesses of Taylor Swift, Kathleen Hanna, and Björk, from a celebrity-themed deck by the artist Faye Orlove, occupy a place of honor on her vanity—a modest shrine to feminine creative power.

Edwards is more commonly known as Lisa Prank, the stage name for her lo-fi pop-punk solo project. Over bouncy, infectious electric guitar chords and beats supplied by a drum machine, she sings charming, heartfelt lyrics about the highs and lows of love. Onstage, the 27-year-old transforms herself into a cartoonish alter ego a la Jem & the Holograms, donning a sunny yellow paper crown with a pair of dangling cut-out hands affixed to it—a tongue-in-cheek costume fashioned for her by her friend Liam Downey of Sub Pop punk trio So Pitted.

After her shows, Edwards offers $5 tarot readings at the merch table. “I like the tarot’s advice as a way to process feelings,” she says. “[Tarot is] a cool device, whether or not you believe in the magic of it … which I do,” she adds with a slightly sheepish smile.

Edwards originally conceived Lisa Prank as a vehicle for her “tender feelings” in her free time while working at a movie theater in Denver. Both a dreamer raised on ’90s rom-coms and a Taurus on the Aries cusp, she confesses to a perpetual yen for the romantic. “Taurus is ruled by Venus, which is the planet of love,” she says. “I relate to that—I feel ruled by feelings of love all the time.”

Her new album, Adult Teen, out June 24 on Father/Daughter Records, explores what happens when that swoony, dreamy headspace is interrupted by an inevitably inferior reality. “Baby, Let Me Write Yr Lines” finds her disenchanted by an attractive but dim suitor’s lack of dialogue: “I’d stick my tongue in your mouth/To keep your words from coming out.” On another track, frustrated by the messy minutiae of dating, she wonders, “Why can’t we just dance?”

Adult Teen’s opener, “Starting Again,” nosedives into the now-tarnished memories of a toxic past relationship. “Up the stairs to your old apartment/I start to slip on the ice, you help me up,” she sings, guitar chords thrumming along anxiously like the pace of a quickened heartbeat. As she relives the seemingly picture-perfect details, you can almost hear her getting high off the fluttery rush of new-love dopamine before reality bursts in on the chorus as she sings, “You say you’re not still drinking/You just started again.”

Aesthetically, Edwards draws inspiration from the glittery pastel palette of teen comedies like Clueless and Josie and the Pussycats. Every Adult Teen LP comes with a sticker sheet, a nod to the ’90s rainbow stationery mogul who prompted Lisa Prank’s playful alias. Edwards is attracted to the “weird elastic reality” of teen culture. “I don’t feel like I had as close of friends when I was a teenager as I do now,” she says. “I feel like the way that teenagers are in high-school movies was never the way that my high-school experience was, and I feel like my life now is more like Clueless than it ever was when I was 16.”

Today Edwards lives in the iconic “Spruce Haus,” a ramshackle punk palace on First Hill that also houses members of Tacocat, Chastity Belt, and So Pitted. She collaborates with Bree McKenna of Tacocat and Julia Shapiro of Chastity Belt in their side project, Gutless. Occasionally, Lisa Prank fuses with garage-rock duo Pony Time to form the trio Party Girls, and when she joins the Tacocat/Chastity Belt/Pony Time supergroup Childbirth, they become Know It All Dad. (She unleashes her inner bratty teen on the latter’s gut-bustingly hilarious “You’re Not My Real Dad”: “Why are you always hanging out with my mom?/I don’t wanna play catch with you/Stop trying to teach me how to drive/ I already know how to drive!”)

Compared to the ethos of the other artists in her orbit—the chill disillusionment of Chastity Belt, the acerbic satire of Tacocat, the scuzzy raucousness of Pony Time—Lisa Prank retains an unexpected kernel of tenderness, even in the face of disappointing dates and bitter breakups. “Keep hoping growing up/Isn’t growing numb,” she sings on “Turn It Up.” “I think we’re told that as we get older, our feelings get less big and dramatic, and I don’t feel like that’s been true for me,” she says. “I still feel really strong feelings, and I still feel hopeful and optimistic. One of the things I want as I get older is to never get jaded.”

While her friends in Tacocat paid tribute to the wry, hard-nosed skepticism of everyone’s favorite flame-haired FBI agent with the song “Dana Katherine Scully” on their recent album Lost Time, Edwards shares the irrepressible hopefulness of Fox “Spooky” Mulder: Like the X-Files conspiracy theorist, she wants to believe. It’s fitting, then, that Adult Teen closes with “I Want to Believe,” a bittersweet testament to Edwards’ faith in love. “And I will follow what I feel/Because I know I’ll always heal/Even though it’s never easy,” she vows. Crushed by heartbreak but buoyed by relentless optimism, she resolves to stay vulnerable and not stamp out the part of herself that experiences wonder—even if it means getting hurt in the process.

As for just how she’s able to maintain such an open, youthful attitude towards life, Edwards ventures one possible theory: Neither she nor her friends attended their high-school proms.

“In the high-school movie, the prom is this sign of completion—‘Everything’s over, we’re all gonna move on to adulthood!’—and when I was in high school, I was like, ‘I’m not going to prom, that’s dumb.’ I feel like by bypassing that ritual, me and my friends are perpetually stuck being adult teens,” she says with a laugh. “And we play shows to have our own proms all the time.” Lisa Prank Adult Teen Album Release Show with Dogbreth and Hoop. Everyday Music, 1520 10th Ave, 568-3321, everydaymusic.com. Free. All ages. 6:00 p.m. Sat., June 25th.

music@seattleweekly.com

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