My usual pitch for “Horsin’ Around” to someone new to Prefab Sprout is something like: What if you could listen to a song that was part bossa nova, part Mario Kart soundtrack, part Twin Peaks, and part bombastic self-deprecation?
Now, I can’t say how many people actually get interested by such a description, but I know I’ll do an exaggerated and silly voice during the bridge while also belting out the chorus whenever it comes on if you decide to join.
“Horsin’ Around” is one of those special songs that exists in multitudes, that makes sonic reaches that sound strange on paper but excel in execution, that goes from the inherent silliness of a lyric like “Horsin’ around’s a serious business” to the guilt expressed over sudden horns in “I deserve to be kicked so badly.”
What is often inherent in the greatness of Prefab Sprout is their ability to strike such a balance — to somewhat paraphrase Lyn Hejinian in The Language of Inquiry — in appearing simultaneously wildly improvisational but also setting out with a clear intentionality. For a band to so smoothly transition between seemingly incongruent sections in a way that doesn’t distance the listener, Prefab Sprout here exemplify their genre label “sophisti-pop” in its best form: not exclusionary and elitist, but rather something that takes subtle risks while still being an absolute jam.
(Song recommendation by Lucas Bailor)