As soon as Quilt’s new long player Held In Splendor begins playing you get the feeling you’ve been transported to 1968. The room is a little wobbly, the air is thick, and the beanbag you’re sitting in is strangely comfortable. A goofy grin forms across your face and opening track “Arctic Shark” has done its job. It’s gotten you giggly without a single puff. Quilt are all about the contact high. “Saturday Bride” sounds like a low key Besnard Lakes. A Besnard Lakes sitting in a cabin in the woods reclaiming their inner nature child. There’s a jauntiness to the track that is completely infectious. It reminds me of a time when Gomez used to win Mercury Prizes and get themselves arrested. “Eye of the Pearl” has these beautiful harmonies that float above simple instrumentation that needs to be nothing more than simple. The vocals are reminiscent of Jim Noir in this song, and that’s kind of a cool thing. Speaking of vocals John Andrews, Anna Rochinski, and Shane Butler all contribute which makes for some pretty amazing moments on Held In Splendor. Something like The Black Angels without the death cult vibe. City kids playing peace and love chants under the influence of realism.
So many bands that are retro-centric can do the vintage dance just fine, but once they step out of the Way-back machine they seem to be lost. With being able to fit into your parent’s(or grandparent’s)bell bottom jeans you’ve gotta know how to navigate in the modern world as well, kids. Quilt can do both rather well. They hit all the right cornerstones of 60s and 70s aesthetic, but then they can jump into a tune like “Tie Up The Tides” and bring us back into the 21st century without confusing our brittle psyche. Rochinski with her Eleanor Friedburger-like vocal delivery makes for a nice change up from the psych pop goodness. Fear not, the short-but-sweet “The Hollow” takes us quickly back into space-y, kaleidoscope of color territory. “A Mirror” at times sounds like early Red Kross-meets-Strawberry Alarm Clock. “Tired and Buttered” is a downright scorcher with a great acoustic breakdown halfway through. “Secondary Swan” is dreamy and floats away with you for just under five minutes. There’s great care put into the music here, but especially the drums and bass are prominent and rich here. So many psych bands tend to sound very thin and treble-y, but Quilt have this amazing thick sound which adds a real heft to their songs. “I Sleep In Nature” closes the album on a waltz and curtsy. Beautifully orchestrated vocal harmonies, strings swaying, before leading into a 4/4 stomp that brings to mind some classic Olivia Tremor Control.
Bands can get lost in their own trip and never find their way back to the light. Quilt aren’t those bands. In the tradition of Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, and many of the other classic Elephant Six Collective Quilt know exactly what they’re doing. They seem to have a clear vision regarding their songs and their aesthetic. Held In Splendor is something of a psych pop masterpiece. Listen and get lost in their world.
8.7 out of 10