REVIEW: Lily and Horn Horse - Lily On Horn Horse

Laura Kerry

Lily is Lily Konigsberg of Palberta, and Horn Horse is Matt Norman, and when you put them together, you get Lily On Horn Horse. The title of this collaborative album means little beyond its component parts, but it evokes a lot—perhaps a half-formed image of a woman riding a unicorn, or the uncanny feeling that arises from recognizing words but not the way they string together.

This album is resistant to any too-perfect metaphor, but let’s just say that the title works well. In 28 songs that shift in configuration from Horn Horse to Konigsberg to Horn Horse ft. Konigsberg and Konigsberg ft. Horn Horse, Lily On Horn Horse is united simply by proximity. Most works coalesce around common sounds or quirks that mark a band, but for Konigsberg and Norman, their most prominent features are the ways that they change. In their own projects, both artists play around with expectations of genre—Horn Horse experimenting in territory related to jazz and Palberta in something like punk—but the one commonality is a kind of pared-down jitteriness that they bring into this collaborative project.

Most songs on the album are short, around two minutes or less, which highlights the frenetic shifts even more. A song with heavy jazz influence and acoustic instruments, such as Horn Horse’s “Year Book,” gives way to a sparse electronic dance track (Horn Horse ft. Lily, “PVC Pipes”), which leads into a dreamy track, Konigsberg’s “I Only Lose Because I’m Lame,” led by a slow, smoky piano. A song with a beat-poetry chant (“Teach Me To Dance”) doesn’t quite resemble the Patti Smith-like surreal poetry of “Brother and Grandma Make Waves on the Beach,” which also doesn’t quite align with “On This Day & Old Man,” its deconstruction of “hey baby” into nonsensical syllables resembling Dadaist poetry. Part of the fun of the album is riding through these playful disparities, following the pair as they come together, break apart, and reconfigure as something completely new.

Through all the shifts, though, Konigsberg and Norman provide enough to hang onto through through this ride. Within the 28 tracks, it’s possible to detect some throughlines, or at least a few general categories that help structure Lily On Horn Horse. There are the spoken-word songs mentioned above, the danceable but dreamy pop(ish) songs (“Song 16” ft. Ani, the first of two named “My Plan,” and mesmerizing, catchy “Going Outside” and “She Doesn’t Have a Good Brain”); the jazzy tunes (“Nostalgic Anxiety,” “Microscopic Request,” and “Alone at the Fair”); the quiet pop tracks (“North Porsche” and “I Only Lose Because I’m Lame”); and the unclassifiables (“What’s in the Dirt?” and “Party in the Rainbow Tunnel by GGB,” among others). Then again, the whole album, inviting despite its lack of cohesion, seems to undermine the value of categorization. You’re probably better off just diving in and seeing what happens.