Boston trio Quilt first came together a few years ago while attending art school, where they tooled around in jam sessions and exchanged mixtapes ranging from deep catalog cuts of classic rock staples like The Beatles and Grateful Dead to further left field material like 13th Floor Elevators and Red Krayola, both anchors of original psych rock label International Artists.
They are, like so many groups that share similar backstories of band potlucking, a curious and one-of-a-kind amalgam of these influences — each one a little square patch in their proud grid that blankets impressive historical and sonic range. On their sophomore LP and new career peak, Held in Splendor, they throw it all on display as cleanly and adeptly as ever — on top of all the traces of every band that fed into this composite sound, still leaving room for a little more of themselves.
Held in Splendor opens with an electric guitar folk riff on lead single “Arctic Shark”, a common building block throughout. There’s a consistent reverberated warmth to the guitar sound from vocalist/guitarists Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler that can perfectly tee up the just-slightly-muted vocals (especially Rochinski’s, spectacularly featherlight when she’s on) for one of their many graceful, melody-dismounting rhymes. (A standout from “Mary Mountain”: “One of these nights, we’ll return/ Tripping over all the foolish things we thought we learned.”)
Splendor also highlights newcomer John Andrews on drums, who expertly holds down subdued grooves worthy of locking into for minutes on end, which the band loves to do while reeling off verses and the occasional saxophone or Doors-esque keys solo. They’ll traverse tempos hard and often, too — sometimes within the sequencing, like the suddenly blitzy second-half highlight “Tired & Buttered”, sometimes within a single song, such as “Secondary Swan” — an effective trait in retaining attention. What would be even more effective is more focus on spanning dynamics and intensity, which can come naturally when shooting for something a bit more personal, but that doesn’t negate Splendor as a successful sophomore step.
Essential Tracks: “Tie Up the Tides” and “Tired & Buttered”