9 May 2016
Quilt - Plaza
Reviewed by Dedric Moore (KC Psych Fest)
Ever have an album that stumps you? One that keeps calling you back again and again but you can't find the words to do it justice? "Plaza" gave me writer's block for three weeks. I'd put it on, get really excited and then type absolutely nothing until I went for a walk in a park and soaked it in, and that was the right combination of sunshine and musical bliss.
Quilt's return with "Plaza" comes after a relentless touring schedule which has given them a confidence in their playing that matches the charm exuding from the speakers.
On a second listen you will start to hear the myriad of layers that flow perfectly together to build these songs into psych pop perfection. And as a bonus, Quilt have gained some swagger in their musical step. The ability to ride a groove means you have to balance tempo, swing and a playfulness with keeping it loose.
The production is crystal clear without sounding too polished. You can feel the "feel" of the band really enjoying the performance as they play their parts. It sounds like they absorbed the mental approach the Beatles took for "Revolver" for songwriting and production values.
"Passerby" works a dreamy hippy vibe with guitar drones, string swells, flute melodies and an easy flow. Tension builds occasionally and then eases back down. It's only four minutes but it drifts along endlessly and could be double the length and not get old. "Roller" is the first single released from "Plaza" and it makes sense. There is no denying the bass and drum groove on this one. It's catchy and has a great vocal melody, and the scratchy guitars are the extra icing on the cake. "Searching For" gets more krautrock with a motorik beat and steady strumming and amps up the vibe. "O'Connor's Barn" starts with interlocking dual guitars that make the whole tune. The male/female vocals really work together on the chorus. "Elliot St". is an acoustic led number that has a memorable bass line and hits the Beatles vibe with shuffling drums, guitar stabs, and string quartets. "Hissing My Plea" is another groover that adds some soul vibes with its funky drums and bass and the super sing-a-long lyrics. "We've got an answer", yes, its true they do. "Something There" relaxes again and channels classic mid-tempo Fleetwood Mac with soothing harmonies and pleasant chord progressions. "Padova" is a gentle ballad that has a constant shuffle as beautiful guitar melodies intersect with slide guitar and harmony vocals. It's wistful and hopeful at the same time. "Your Island" is another slow groover that makes you sway to the beat. Beautiful vocals and wonderful dynamics make a simple guitar pattern memorable as well as sticking in your brain for days. I recommend strutting down the street to this one and smiling at everyone walking by. "Own Ways" picks it back up for the final track. Tremolo guitar pushes a "lost-in-the-wild-open" vibe. This is a great way to end the album. It touches on the more jamming feel of their first release and shows how Quilt have moved their music forward without losing track of what was their appeal.
Quilt rock as needed, jam as desired, and make guilt-free feel-good music.
Vinyl, CD & digital available here.