Album #35: The Homesick – The Big Exercise

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Dokkum, Netherlands
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • Best Track: Male Bonding

Whatever Boris and his bitches think of it, I’m embracing Europe, and today’s album comes from inventive Dutch trio The Homesick.

The Big Exercise is the second album from a band I’m not sure how to categorise. I think it’s folk tinged with psychedelia, but the vocals make me think of medieval or Celtic incantations, and there are some angular guitars and irregular drum patterns in parts that give it post-hardcore and math rock elements as well.

Confused? Well, whatever you want to call it, it’s highly enjoyable and this is a wild ride of a record. Galloping guitars and perfectly timed and harmonised vocals drive it, with oddball, often surreal lyrics finding their way in – not least some rambling about creating a female scent from plucking dirt out of your armpits on ‘Focus on the Beach’

The pre-released single ‘I Celebrate My Fantasy’ is a bouncy bit of joy, and ‘Leap Year’ takes the pace down a bit with some pensive lyrics about existentialism, the likes of which you don’t often hear in rock, to say the least!

There are lots of bands The Homesick sound a bit like, but nobody they sound a lot like. It’s a unique sound, and for that reason, it can be a challenge to avoid getting samey over the course of an album. That’s why closing track ‘Male Bonding’ is so welcome, being the first time the vocals escalate into a shout or scream. It reminds me of the intense ending to Slint’s Spiderland, where the whole thing builds up to this cathartic crescendo.

The Big Exercise is tight, complex and sounds like a lot of toil has gone into it, but at the same time it never feels overworked. A splendid effort from the Dutchmen!

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