Monday, August 8, 2016

Adult Teen

There's a great metaphor for adulthood on Drive Anywhere, the ninth track on - and a highlight of - Lisa Prank's first full-length album Adult Teen. "I could drive anywhere," she sings, "but there's nowhere that I really wanna go..."

I'm glad I heard Adult Teen when I did - it's very much a summer album, and it would have been a shame to discover it in September!

Children and teenagers look forward to turning 18 because adults are free to do pretty much whatever they want. But how many of us, having reached that point of no return, actually take full advantage of our independence? I'd guess that most people, upon finally being presented with life's infinite wine list, find themselves utterly stumped as to what they actually want. All of a sudden, you can go anywhere and do anything, but perhaps the most difficult part of that freedom - aside from all the grown-up responsibilities that tend to accompany it - is deciding what to do with it.

For Lisa Prank's part, she seems to be spending her early adulthood going around in the same circles she remembers from her adolescence. "I swear I don't still miss you, I just started again" goes the chorus of opening track Starting Again. "Why can't we just dance?" she pleads later on, um, Why Can't We Just Dance.

There's an interesting distinction to draw here between being an adult and being a grown-up. Lisa Prank refers to herself as an 'adult teen' because, while she's old enough to be an adult in the eyes of the law, she's still experiencing the emotions and feelings more typically associated with one's teenage years.

"I'm checking your horoscope, trying to remember the things you said...I'm making you a mix tape in my is making me dumb"

The implication is that while adulthood is simply what happens when you turn 18, you don't actually become a grown-up until you stop being so fickle and romantic and emotion-driven. This is more or less what Mitski was singing about on Puberty 2, specifically the song Fireworks:

"One morning this sadness will fossilise
And I will forget how to cry
I'll keep going to work and you won't see a change
Save perhaps a slight grey in my eye
I will go jogging routinely
Calmly and rhythmically run
And when I find that a knife's sticking out of my side
I'll pull it out without questioning why"

For Mitski, growing up means hardening and becoming numb to the life's emotional peaks and troughs, and it seems like Lisa Prank feels much the same way: she's an adult, but because her feelings haven't yet 'fossilised', she still feels like an adult teen.

This isn't to say that Lisa Prank's music sounds all that much like Mitski's (actually, Adult Teen sounds to me like Cars Can Be Blue with less profanity). If anything, Lisa Prank is someone who went to a Mitski show, walked home feeling inspired, and recorded an album of perfect punk-goes-sixties pop in her bedroom in a single evening, with only a electric guitar and a drum machine for accompaniment. The tunes are tremendous - check out Take it All, my current favourite, below - and each one feels raw and real, like the thoughts we all scribbled in our notebooks at the age of 15 (except actually worth sharing with the world). 

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