Quilt – Held In Splendor
While the masses revisit the soul of the sixties, the sounds eventually blend together, leaving you with more of a rehash effort than a remaining, but on Quilt‘s new album, Held In Splendor, they make those nods, but they incorporate a more expansive palate, creating a more diverse sound that’s wholly their own.
You’ll start your journey with “Arctic Shark,” which comes across as a sexualized stomp with Anna Rochinski taking the vocal lead. You can imagine her swaying in front of a field of friends as the sound of sitar enters the picture, but it’s her flowing melody that really takes the focus. Interestingly, the band are just incorporating bits and pieces of their influences, rather than over-indulging. You’ll hear that unfold even more as Held In Splendor moves forward with “Saturday Bride;” the harmonizing alone makes the song worth your time, but it’s the restraint shown in the psychedelia that allows you to see that they’re not willing to allow their own personalities get carried away in reminiscing.
I think one of the most successful pieces of the Quilt‘s composition is that they keep songs short and sweet, with the majority of the tracks living beneath the 3 minute mark. Songs like “The Hollow” are short and to the point, yet they’re actually filled with multiple musical movements within. This track begins as a bit of a casual poet’s ballad with intricate guitar playing being enforced by string arrangements, yet the pace is adjusted as the drums push the song forward just a bit. These mini-movements are what allow the group to keep their music impactful, without wearing you thin with too many historical references.
Personally, I think my favorite tracks are those with a traditional balladry to them, such as “Eye of the Pearl” and “Talking Trains.” The former is a steady number with a great vocal performance, emphasized by a nice backing vocal that’s draped directly atop the main vocal. And while the latter is a ballad, the guitar has a darker tone, which is more fitting for Rochinski’s vocal performance. Both songs represent the fact that simplicity often requires more skill in order to make the songs standout, and in the case of these two songs, it’s true.
While the genre of psychedelia and paisley-influenced jams allows many of us to revisit our favorite musical era, the realm of that genre can often get tired and wearisome, treading over itself far more often than going in new directions. That being said, Held In Splendor doesn’t get bogged down in nostalgia, instead using it as a launching off point for Quilt‘s dynamic songwriting process. It’s a listen draped in history, but pushing us forward towards a new future…you’ll like where you end up.