The Big Exercise

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Making their Sub Pop debut are the Homesick, a trio of Dutch sonic explorers from the Frisian town of Dokkum whose idiosyncratic indie rock traverses Motorik post-punk, neo-psychedelia, and lean Baroque pop. The Big Exercise follows three years after the band's slightly grittier 2017 missive Youth Hunt, which introduced their signature blend to mostly European audiences and scored them a fair amount of critical buzz, not to mention an American record deal. Brandishing a youthful mix of confidence, creative intelligence, and chutzpah, members Elias Elgersma (guitar), Jaap Van der Velde (bass), and Erik Woudwijk (drums) have landed on a surprisingly distinctive sound, one that contains enough melodic warmth to engage listeners but packed with complex song structures and played with taut precision. Known for joyriding around their hometown in Woudwijk's massive Unimog alpine rescue vehicle and name-dropping avant-gardists like Meredith Monk and Scott Walker, the Homesick strike a neat balance between youthful passion and wry academic detachment, somehow making it all work in the context of their craft. Acting as the album's overture, "What's in Store" sets the tone and paves the way for the thrilling combo of "Children's Day" and "Pawing," the former culminating in a dizzying vocal hocket between Elgersma and Van der Velde that segues seamlessly into the enchanting multi-part harpsichord romp of the latter. The fun continues on "I Celebrate My Fantasy," whose staccato guitar and piano lines cascade into mesmerizing waves of wild chamber punk. As players, each member pulls his weight, playing with fervor and intensity without wasting notes. Like the collage that adorns its cover, The Big Exercise can feel quite busy at times, but there is also a sense of refinement in the band's approach. A dueling sense of danger colliding with a strong attention to detail makes the Homesick all the more exciting.

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