There’s a fine line between pathos and reverie. That applies to pop music and pretty much every other art form, including life. The best artists not only walk that fine line, but do it along the abyss. They leave the listener’s heart racing, often sinking in fear and rising in joy, as the two walk hand in hand looking out upon endless vistas knowing full well that the slightest misstep will send the whole thing spiraling into a chasm of empty cliches, contrived melodies, false sentiment, and tedious posturing; basically, the the majority of what has churned through bone grinder of the pop industrial complex for generations. The same fate meets those who avoid the line altogether. There’s dullness in safety- no art at all. It’s this fine line that separates the Kathleen Hannas from the Drakes; the Radioheads from the Strokeses; and the Kurt Cobains from the Taylor Swifts. The line creates tension and drama. It’s where good stuff lurks and great occasionally emerges, the kind that will still resonate decades down the line.
In the genre of broken-hearted pop songs, this line is especially treacherous. Few have walked it successfully, much less spectacularly: the early sixties saw American girl groups like The Shirelles, The Shangri-Las, The Crystals, and The Ronettes; French Ye-Ye girls Francoise Hardy, France Gall, and Chantal Goya; the latter part of that decade gave us the ultimate line-walkers in the form of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, and, take me seriously or not, Sonny and Cher. Of course, over the decades, the list has become quite substantial, but none have dared to actually dance perilously along that fine line like a certain young man from the semi-detached housing estates of Manchester. He not only dances, but pirouettes, slides, leaps, and does endless pas de deux there. He is the true champion, prime minister, and pathetic majesty of that tiny territory, and will forever hold countless hearts in thrall with his death defying lyrical feet and occasional handstands.
Lisa Prank’s Adult Teen may not exactly be dancing on those cliffs, but it certainly runs, laughs, and bounces like a child released into the wild after being housebound for weeks on end. There is sadness here – heartache, heartbreak, rejection, objection, dejection, defection and just plain old angry “Fuck You!”; as well as hope, excitement, anticipation and school girl crushing and gushing that would be downright sappy in lesser hands. Through it all, Adult Teen never fails to run tall as it skirts that exhilarating edge.
Prank not only survives here, but thrives, and so do you. You listen again and again, each time something new popping up, associative memories rushing forward in flourishes. To riff on an old Minutemen line, this album could be your life. You listen again, read the lyrics, “Turn it Up”, finding the “Best of Everything” as she “Drive(s) (You) Anywhere” and everywhere. Sure, you know “Luv is Dumb” but you so badly, badly “[I]Want to Believe”, as it feels like you and the Prankster are having an honest to God “Heart 2 Heart” right there in the headphones before she whispers in your ear “Why Can’t We Just Dance?”. She “Take(s) It All” and you do, too, as the album ends and there you go “Starting (it) Again”, and you just keep finding more, digging deep, soul mining a deep vein that is destined to be classic. After who knows how many listens, you emerge from the closet, call your parents (or march right to the living room) and go “Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you. I’ve been wanting to tell you this for a long time, but I’m just now feeling brave enough to tell you. Are you ready?” Everyone takes a deep breath as you gasp, heart pounding right out of your chest, “I’m… I’m … I’m an Adult Teen.” We finally have a name. Thank you Lisa Prank.
Lisa Prank will be touring the western half of the U.S. in the coming weeks:
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