One of the most impressive things a musician can do, in my opinion, is subvert a listener's expectations. Sometimes that involves a stylistic shift between albums, a fusion of previously unrelated genres, or structuring a song so that it evolves in an unpredictable way. Somewhere in the middle of all that is Chicago-based duo Homme, whose self-titled debut is a brilliant exercise in musical experimentation.
The record (which, coming in at six tracks, appropriately defies classification as either an EP or LP) is difficult to place into any genre category, and while I usually think "experimental pop" is a bit of a cop-out, it's the only label that can encompass everything Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham do. Elements of noise rock, ambient electronics, psychedelia, and beautifully melancholy folk are present not just throughout the album as a whole, but in nearly every song.
While that sounds like it could get busy or unfocused (and I've certainly encountered bands where that was the case), Homme is able to make it work by using the tension between styles and energy levels as a focal point of the record. When a cacophonous wall of distorted guitars intrudes on a lovely little vocal melody, each part becomes a character and the conflict between them gives the song an almost narrative quality. You find yourself engrossed in the dynamic simply to find out how it will be resolved.
Homme is one of those rare albums that's able to stretch the boundaries of existing genres while still respecting them. There's no disconnect here between the conceptual songwriting and the execution of each element—the final product is as eminently listenable as it is academically curious. While it's a bit of a late entry, this is absolutely one of the more exciting new acts to come out of 2015.