[sic] Magazine

Quilt – Plaza

Quilting is where Americana meets folk tradition. And, intertwined on a kindred level, Quilt is where acoustic psychedelia meets indie folk-rock. Today the Boston band’s rickety, primitive edges have been rounded off by more experienced craftsmanship, their easy-going melodies given a shot in the arm on third LP, Plaza, by more straightforward pop.

The creaky shadows of their outdoorsy debut ageing now like a fond memory, founder members and principal songwriters Shane Butler and Anna Fox Rochinski step wholly inside city limits for the first time with catchy tracks like “Roller” – a svelte, St. Vincent-like blend of smart percussion and the chatter and drone of toy-box psychedelia. “Hissing My Plea”, too, despite a jangling middle, basks in unabashed hooks. It’s classy, sassy stuff as well, the rhythm section – bolstered by new drummer John Andrews and bassist Keven Lareau – bouncing along in time to the luxurious squeak and spiral of a string quartet.

Over ten varied concoctions, though, which take in 60s influences borrowed from likes of The Kinks, Rubber Soul-era Beatles and The Animals, Quilt spin a degree of cohesion through a folksy wholesomeness in their harmonies, a light sense of psychedelia to their instrumental swirl. The melodies are also a touch less sweet in general than on their previous album Held In Splendor. Playing more coquettishly suits them in any case, Butler and Rochinski’s bittersweet lyrics threatening to derail the laid-back vibes deliciously. Ensuring no such thing, however, when Rochinski leads she revels in flute-driven grooves, viola and bucolic harp at her side as often as Eastern-flecked finger-picking and/or organ and psyche-pop Casios.

Butler’s centre stage contributions, on the other hand, remain somewhere between the scrappy indie of artists like Mazes and The Babies and, apt considering Plaza’s producer is Jarvis Taveniere, the uneasy psyche-folk sunshine of Woods. His delicate vocal gives “Eliot St.” and its prominent strings, for example, a dream-pop quality not unlike that of Mercury Rev. At the other end of the spectrum, “Searching For” plugs in and fuzzes round some spacey synth work. Pick of the bunch, the utterly charming “Padova”, even takes on a heartland folk-rock edge. It’s there in the subtly galloping percussive shuffle, the flourishes of harp that provide a true folk twang and the lilting vocal harmonies that are pure Midlake.

Middling as it was, Held In Splendor now seems a necessary step on the road to Plaza. Without it we may as well be discussing the work of two separate bands when thinking back to the debut. In retrospect, Held In Splendor was Butler and Rochinski’s chrysalis phase, enabling them to now spread their wings. Free, for a short while at least, to enjoy their time in the sun, they’ll do well to let the prevailing breeze carry them wherever it blows.

Best track: “Padova”

~Plaza is released February 26th 2016 via Mexican Summer.~