ALBUM REVIEW: The Homesick Hits the Gym on ‘The Big Exercise’

On their Sub Pop debut, the Dutch trio finds their magic formula.

The album title The Big Exercise sounds too on-the-nose to be taken at face value. It’s hard not to, however: the second album by Dutch indie outfit The Homesick (their first for Sub Pop) is an ambitious and rewarding piece of rock that’s equally earnest and fun.

The arrangements and rhythms of several songs evoke the baroque and medieval. Songs like “I Celebrate My Fantasy” and “The Small Exercise” are accessorized with clarinet and piano flourishes. Others, like “Leap Year” and “Focus On The Beach,” take unexpected turns in melody and focus as time signatures change and tempos hasten, feats that highlight drummer Erik Woudwijk’s exceptional talent.

The lyrics, mostly penned by members Elias Elgersma and Jaap Van der Velde, tackle much ground. “First we swam then we ran / now we fly and next we’ll die” goes the existential opening lines of “Leap Year.” Single “I Celebrate My Fantasy” documents the surrealist visions Elgersma had during a case of sleep paralysis.

Nevertheless, The Homesick is playful throughout the album’s 40-minute runtime. The harmonies and call-and-response on tracks like “Children’s Day” and “Kaïn” reflect the camaraderie you’d expect from members of a relatively fresh rock band. Pastoral opener “What’s In Store” and album breather “The Small Exercise” evoke Feels-era Animal Collective. 

And like the AnCo, The Homesick understands that taking a serious look at the everyday and existential doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing so. This insight is the key to the album’s appeal.

Album standout “Male Bonding” starts as a heavy rock track that gives way to screeches and screaming before falling into a spacious call-and-response, only to finish with a jaunty outro. It’s a roller coaster of a song that encapsulates The Homesick’s range and songcraft—an exercise that doubles as the arrival of an indie rock original.

Score: 🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️ / 5

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