What exactly makes a perfect love song? Is it an unforgettable declarative statement of devotion? A profound narrative surrounding heartbreak? A snapshot of arguing in the car or at the diner where everyone is looking at you with concerned eyes? The make-up sex when you get back home? Love is the happiest, saddest, most frustrating, most exhilarating, most complex states of mind there is, so it's safe to say most songs about love are perfect love songs. They are singular experiences to the person writing it, shifting several degrees between one person and the next. Success in love is solely determined by how well you embrace its imperfections.
Songs springing from the aftermath of a protracted breakup of her own, Robin Edwards -- founder, frontwoman, and sole constant member of Lisa Prank -- traded in her Roland MC-505 for a collective of musician friends to explore the contours of that recently shuddered relationship. As a result, Perfect Love Song is an album of painstaking (and often painful) emotional detail, an omnibus of journaled feelings captured in sparkly pop-punk and autumnal twee. ("Telescope" was co-written with album producer Rose Melburg of legendary indie-pop groups Tiger Trap and the Softies.) Heartbreak and the healing that comes after wrapped in diphanous harmonies and (mostly) propulsive tempos.
Kissing in the car until the song ends. Wishing herself into the photobooth tacked or taped to her wall, an image of laughter and closeness. A willingness to put the work in for the love she wants. The fairytale we all paint for ourselves when we fall in love with someone. Giving up part of the aforementioned fairytale of getting her IUD taken out and possibly starting a family. The desire to tell everyone about the private actions of a performatively woke gaslighter. Wanting to be a precious object, "someone you wouldn't do this to." That moment where you can tell the relationship doesn't feel the same, that something went sour. Listing the things she should have said before the breakup. Turning into the heart eyes emoji for dogs walking by. Various metaphors and perceptions about love (the most striking being, "I say love is the job everyone wants"). And a perfect kiss-off: "You can do whatever you want / Run as fast as you can to the next girl."
I can go on, but this article is supposed to be about Edwards explaining Perfect Love Song in her words, so let's see what she had to say.
This song is about the dizzy beginning stages of dating, when you’re both trying to pretend you don’t care as much as you do. You’re saying you don’t want to be in love…but maybe you do?
Deleting someone’s number can be as powerful of a spell as any. This song is about believing in magic and love gone wrong. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have never had to knock on wood, but I have.
The brattiest song on the record! A cathartic kiss off. I spent a long night trying to pick out a synth tone that sounded like The Rentals for the bridge, and even though Matt Sharp didn’t play the solo, I like to pretend that he did.
I’m guilty of ignoring problems to delay my own inevitable heartbreak. This song is about holding onto your dreams of what could’ve been and denying the reality of the facts in front of you to preserve the beautiful illusion for just a little bit longer.
I started writing this song in my head while I was walking through an Austin sunset alone on tour, deep in the thick of problems I hadn’t gotten the courage to talk to any of my friends about yet. I was walking by the Congress Avenue bridge and saw all these people looking out over it, waiting for something, and all of a sudden thousands of bats flew out from under the bridge and into the sky. It felt like a magical synchronicity that I walked by just in time for this thing people travel from all over to see, especially at a moment in my life where I was having a hard time finding joy in anything. I’ve always had a hard time expressing anger, or even allowing myself the permission to feel it, and I was grappling with that a lot over the months it took me to finally finish this song, and the months it took to finally tell people close to me what I had been keeping in. There’s this Mr. Rogers quote: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” It’s true!
“Need Too Much” is about insomnia and the highs of a relationship feeling as fleeting as the beautiful Seattle summer.
So many songs idealize the magic of love and this was my attempt to write about the very real part of it that requires hard work. For the percussion we really wanted it to sound like the Marine Girls, and genius producer Rose Melberg knew how to make that happen and suggested the claves and cabasa combo. For some reason the clink of those claves is the most beautiful sound in the world to me.
I was asked to write and perform a song at a party for the release of the wonderful writer Sheila Heti’s book Motherhood, which is about her struggle with deciding whether or not to have kids. Everyone performing was asked to create a piece of art around that topic. When I said yes to it I was in a serious relationship and it was the first time I’d ever even talked about the possibility having kids, so I figured I’d write some kind of sweet love song about that. But by the time the event was about to roll around I had completely procrastinated on writing a song, and my relationship had dramatically exploded a few days before, so this song about contraceptives and lies came out instead.
Wouldn’t it be nice if romantic love could be as endless as looking at a sea of stars in the night sky?
When I was growing up in Denver, Brighton Blvd was the spot for DIY shows, mostly centered around a warehouse venue called Rhinoceropolis (which had closed at the time of writing this song but has since reopened!). The area has become very gentrified and built up and virtually unrecognizable from the empty streets and punk shows I remember, and I wrote this song after visiting again and missing the place it used to be, the people who used to be there, and the person I used to be when I spent so much time seeing and playing music on that street.
There’s something truly awful about finding out you’ve been consistently betrayed and lied to—it shatters your trust for the future, rewrites your past memories, and robs you of a sense of stable reality. This song is about the effects of being gaslit, and having a really hard time sitting with the knowledge that while someone is able to keep up this morally upstanding good guy persona, they treat people like garbage in their personal life. And wanting to scream the truth about it!
I wasn’t planning on including this song on the record because I couldn’t quite finish it, but while we were recording I played what I had for Rose. She took a pen to the lyrics and asked me some questions and we finished writing it together in a very magical Nashville the TV show-style songwriting session and she played rhythm guitar and sang harmonies. It’s such an emo one! I couldn’t get through singing it in the studio without tearing up.
We put this song at the end of the record because I wanted to end it on a hopeful note after so many songs about heartbreak. It’s a tender love song about walking home in the moonlight and the possibility of new romance.
Sound & Vision host Emily Fox spoke with Robin Edwards about her latest album, which was fueled by "Lifetime movie level heartbreak."
From the album Perfect Love Song out October 4th via Father/Daughter Records.
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