When you see an album title like Adult Teen and cover art that looks like a hipster’s take on Lisa Frank, all released by an act called Lisa Prank, you get worried. It looks like things are about to go down a very gimmicky road. Track titles like “Luv Is Dumb” and “Heart 2 Heart” struck fear into my heart that this would be the musical equivalent of 30-somethings playing teenagers on Beverly Hills 90210. Just like many teen movies have shown us, we can’t prejudge. The nerd is actually super hot behind those glasses; the band geeks are kinkier than everyone; and Lisa Prank’s brand of pop-punk is actually very genuine, introspective, and fun. It’s authentic 2000s pop-punk without a sad guy blaming someone else for making him sad, early Blink-182 without the toilet humor: it’s an adult female who sings about feelings with a realistic view of it all.
Lisa Prank is listed as a band with a sole, founding member: Seattle-based Robin Edwards. When she performs live, it’s just Edwards, her electric guitar, and a drum machine. She had some help from other musicians and a producer on Adult Teen but otherwise, it’s a very DIY operation. Since this is a DIY effort, this is lo-fi, simple pop-punk album. Edwards’ sometimes nasally voice is just like the pop-punk of my high school days. The songs are quick and upbeat. Well, except the slow, synthy “Turn It Up,” which despite the slow and synthy thing is pretty stoic. There is a very Blink-182 sound to “Take It All,” it really reminded me of “All the Small Things.”
While this album is very true to pop-punk form and the lyrics deal with a lot of feelings, it leaves out the whining of the songs of yesteryear. These aren’t lines that you’d leave as your cryptic AIM away message to make your crush think you’re deep and in pain (admit it, if you used a chat messenger thing in high school, you did it, too.) Edwards has had time to think it through; she gets that she’s always looking to fall in love on “Jumper” and notices that she’s doing silly things to feel closer to her beau on “Luv Is Dumb.” She tells of how she’s still optimistic that love can exist and sings that she knows she will recover from heartbreak on the plucky, synth-tastic “I Want to Believe,” which is pretty grown up for an adult teen. “Turn It Up” takes place after a break-up, with Edwards noting that it’s getting easier to sleep alone and if she starts to think of her ex, she just goes out. It’s a very mature post-break-up song that states she’d “rather be lonely than belong to someone else.” There are some hilarious lyrics on here: on “Best of Everything,” she confesses she needs her partner to distract her from WebMD. The funniest track of the album is “Baby, Let Me Write Yr Lines,” about dating someone who is attractive but dumb as a brick. So dumb, she questions if they know how to read. I laughed out loud when Edwards sang “You’re always jumping in with anecdotes that don’t make any sense.” I have friends who have been in Edwards’ situation, so I’ve been stuck in the terrible conversations; it’s all too real. Being this mature, intelligent adult, Edwards has a solution: she’ll offer to write her partner’s lines and “put my tongue in your mouth to stop the words from coming out.” Check the song out below and listen for the lyrics, it’s worth it.
This album is far more intelligent, mature, and genuine than I assumed it would be. Like Freddie Prinze Jr. in She’s All That, I must admit that I was wrong by judging this album before getting to know it. If you enjoyed old emo-pop-punk but you’re ready for a grown-up lady to sing about her grown-up lady feelings, this album can be the soundtrack for your drive to Forever 21 where you can continue your own quest to be an adult teen.