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On The Big Exercise, the second album from Dutch band The Homesick, the band expand their post-punk and alt-rock sound, to such a degree that pigeon-holing is useless. On The Big Exercise, you’ll find influences positively varied in nature – from the experimental post-punk of Preoccupations to the alt-indie of compatriots Lewsberg to the explosive punk of label-mates Metz. Not forgetting the hazy vibes of San Franciscan ‘60s or the progressive art-music of the ‘70s. File under... ah, forget it. The Big Exercise is available in an indie store exclusive yellow vinyl. A digital download is included.
The Big Exercise can be a challenging listen. In simple terms, Dutch trio The Homesick play waggishly experimental indie-rock and angular post-punk, sharing similarities with the likes of XTC or Wire. So far, so good. The difficulty is that wider influences are many and The Homesick like you to know about it. The Big Exercise flips and darts about the place frequently, leaving cohesion hard to come by.
For the casual listener this is a roadblock. But persevere and you’ll find The Big Exercise a more than fruitful experience. It is not worth the time trying to find the words that nail their myriad style, but mostly you’ll find a hallucinogenic San Franciscan ‘60s thing going on, fused with playful ‘70s post-punk and new wave. All very interesting and when The Homesick get it right, it is very, very good. ‘Kaln’ and ‘I Celebrate My Fantasy’ are the psychedelic ‘60s this generation never saw; two tracks full of gorgeous whimsy twinned with sunny vocal harmonies. In the space of two tracks The Homesick move from the brutalist-edged post-punk of Preoccupations, complete with rolling carnival drums (‘Children’s Day’) to the whimsy lo-fi pop of Ariel Pink (‘Pawing’).
When The Homesick get it wrong however, it stands out like a sore thumb. Interestingly this is the first album I can recall where the title track is perhaps the weakest on the album. ‘The Homesick’ is messy and a total nuisance. Fortunately, blots are few.
This is not an album that gives up everything just because you asked nicely. It doesn’t offer beatirific background noise while you busy yourself around the house. It’s an album that opens to a listener willing to be attentive. It isn’t supposed to be easy. But if you feed its ego, you will be rewarded.