[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hile the big machines of the music biz are hard at work fracking all the tangible joy from ’60s Britpop and proto-’80s whatever-wave, Quilt have found their niche re-appropriating ’70s psych folk for the iTunes generation. The Boston trio of Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler, and John Andrews made waves on the local scene with their self-titled debut in 2011 before catching ghost to Brooklyn. Nearly three years later, they’ve emerged from the echo chamber with Held in Splendor — an elastic little bit of culture mining that pulls its substance from the purest enclaves of jam band ethos and channels it through the stargazing fuzz of modern Bushwick.
Held in Splendor climbs up the depths of the record bin with a head full of mescaline and a guitar full of echoes. The album trades high-tempo peaks with grassy valleys of reflection, undulating to a peaceful end. Moments are sedative and serene – like the hypnotic final notes of “The World is Flat” and the smoky and bare “Talking Trains.” Elsewhere, retro jams like “Tired and Buttered” and “Mary Mountain” push out the heady miasma with a bitchin’ wind of snare and bass.
Elements of Held in Splendor are deeply psychedelic. Rochinski’s voice, the pervasive ambrosia behind Quilt’s burnout appeal, swims in the miles of reverb; harmonies pile and dissolve like good acid. Butler spouts riddlesome, Jefferson Starship-esque lyrics like “hear the clock’s gentle laughter,” urging those daring to “climb in [his] guitar.” Add in the twanged-out speakerbox bass that holds it all together, and there’s no question that this record is paraphernalia for a hazy Saturday night.
But Held in Splendor isn’t just about the electric Kool-Aid. Though the band’s music is a fine incantation, Rochinski, Butler, and Andrews’ tight and dizzyingly layered tunes are not concerned with chasing your father’s dragon. The hometown trio’s ambitions are too big for the burnt-out basement. The allure, the nostalgia, and the indulgence of all meld together to create something that, though not entirely new, is certainly unique. Their vibed-out folk melodies are plucked with nuance and care, and their curiously ambiguous lyrics show decades of growth, with a timeless pop sensibility curated equally from both Beach House and the Steve Miller Band.
Despite all the gazing in the rearview, Held in Splendor feels refreshingly contemporary. It has the languid smirk and bedroom eyes of twenty-something SoHo and the derelict charm of an artist co-op in Lower Allston. The amiable harmonies and guitar riffs are not borrowed or salvaged but revived, given new purpose and context in the hands of a band of blithely optimistic bohemians.
In bringing their Woodstock aesthetic to the Coachella crowd, Quilt have struck a resonant vision — an acid flashback that is even better than the first time around.