Album of the Day: The Young Sinclairs, “Out of the Box”

On “Action Movies,” which appears deep into the second side of the Young SinclairsOut of the Box, the Roanoke, Virginia band are busy doing what they’ve done since 2005—making jaunty, jangly, ‘60s-referencing pop—when bandleader Sam Lunsford’s lyrics suddenly alter the mood. The song becomes a cutting character study of a Van Damme-like shoot-’em-up star who desperately wants to branch out into more serious roles, much to the chagrin of his agent and the family members who fear he’ll lose out on those blockbuster paydays. Lunsford can relate—while he doesn’t share his protagonist’s celebrity profile, he’s no less eager to play against type.

After making their mark in the late ‘00s, with a slew of chiming, chill records that positioned them as the missing link between The Clientele and Real Estate, the Young Sinclairs sound like a changed band on their first full-length in nine years. Sure, Out of the Box has plenty of that signature shimmer, but here, Lunsford and co. aren’t so much keying into a specific ‘60s Rickenbackered sound as tracing the evolution of psychedelia over the ensuing decades. And if the Spacemen 3 gospel-drone of “Come on Now (Give You All My Love)” feels like a natural extension of the band’s established aesthetic, other tracks take bolder leaps outside their comfort zone, whether it’s the synth-swathed chillwave of “Drifting Haze” or the sitar-spiked tabla funk of “Same Old Now” (which strongly suggests Lunsford has spent many a late night zoning out to Primal Scream’s Vanishing Point). Perhaps no track better illustrates the album’s time-warping ethos than “In This Room,” which effortlessly folds the Eastern mysticism of The Beatles’ “Within You Without You” into the ebullient electro-pop of New Order’s “Temptation.” Coming from a band that could’ve easily satisfied its patiently-waiting cult with another serving of gentle jangle, Out of the Box reaps the unexpected benefits of thinking outside the box. 

-Stuart Berman

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