If Robert Pollard was more obsessed with Brian Wilson/Beach Boys and less with Pete Townshend/The Who, perhaps then Guided By Voices would have sounded more like The Squires of the Subterrain. A cursory search online will tell you that “The Squires of the Subterrain springs from the do-it-yourself, lo-fi¬†(but certainly not low-quality) pop ingenuity of a single man,¬†Christopher Earl (born Christopher Earl Zajkowski)” and with six albums already released (since the 90s), there’s a lot to say about the stamina and self-belief of Christopher Earl.

And so Sandbox arrives as album #7, the title inspired by Brian Wilson’s notorious installation of a sandbox in his living room whereupon he placed a piano so that he could feel the sand between his toes as he composed! So it’s no stretch to describe Sandbox as chock full of Beach Boys-referencing pastiches from the early surf-rock days (“Idling in the Sun”, “Surfin’ Indiana”) to the psychedelic Smile-infused “(I Still) Mow Your Lawn”, “Fun House” and “Woodrow Wilson”. The latter track is a absolute Wilsonesque gem that fans of the legend will thoroughly savour.

Fair warning – the production is ‘lo-fi’ and Earl’s vocals (despite his best efforts) could never match his one true inspiration but that’s never an issue if one is able to appreciate the sheer love, passion, dedication and craft that Earl has put into yet another album. Lovers of sixties pop will dig Sandbox.

Get your Sandbox (and other Squires albums) here.