When Tame Impala released Innerspeaker in May of 2010 it was received with great reviews, praised for its 60’s psychedelic rock roots while giving it the modern rock spin. There were comparisons to The Beatles, The Black Angels and just about every previous psychedelic rock band possible. Just like the Strokes had done it 9 years before, it started a revival of a genre. Is This It single handedly jump-started the indie-rock phenomena of the 00’s and Tame Impala is, arguably, the reason of the recent surge in psychedelic rock bands. While barely 10 years separate the two movements they have a key difference. The indie rock movement was riddled with copycat, no-talent bands all trying to buy-in into the hype. You got great bands like The Artic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and The Libertines out of it but you also got things like The Pigeon Detectives and The Twang. The psych-rock revival is a much cleaner environment though; not nearly as many bands and a whole lot more talent. Quilt take influences from both music styles but fall on the second movement. And the quality, although already proven, is even more visible in their latest LP Plaza.
In the ten-track collection that Plaza spans, Quilt forge a bridge, much like Innerspeaker did, between the sound of old psychedelia and modern rock. The mix of genres is this album doesn’t lean so heavily towards the psychedelic sound like Tame Impala does but a perfect blend of Psychedelic with indie rock, each of the genres always pushing through to complement and highlight the other. While it is true that some songs here and there play with the dials of this balance it is a generally even album with short to-the-point songs the songs don’t wander off, a characteristic of psychedelic rock. One of the few points on the album where it allows itself such deviation from a streamlined performance is in the opener track “Passerby”. Midway through the song it starts to build up into a gorgeous guitar solo, simplistic and circular in psych rock fashion, a guitar drowned in effects to mimic a sitar dances back in forth around the remaining instrumentation in a masterfully crafted tangent before gliding back into the finish of the track. It becomes clear pretty early into the album the ease that Quilt have in putting together beautiful arrangements, not that they use that asset as much as they could, the ability is undeniably there.
One other thing that may present itself pretty readily is the mastery in the use of the guitar tones. This trait allows Quilt to craft songs that are all bound inside a common sound while being completely different and independent from another. This album is sonically close-knit yet it doesn’t ever feel boring or redundant. Each song is a different snippet, a different story, a different sound. Plaza is the meeting point for each of these sonic ideas, a convergence point where the songs Quilt created, come together to stop being single entities and become a proper album. No song sounds out of place and no two songs feel or sound the same. This is an album to come back to once in a while, discovering more and more of it with each listen.
While the use of guitar tones and instrumentation may fool some, at hearth, Quilt is not a psychedelic rock band as much as an indie rock/folk band in love with the psychedelic sound. They may blend the sonority of psych rock with indie rock seamlessly but this album doesn’t present you psychedelic rock songs. In turn it gives you ten indie rock songs dressed in a psychedelic dress made of phased out guitars and echoing synthesizers. If the album’s opener fooled you into thinking otherwise, the second song “Roller” stacks guitar with driving drums giving the song a sort of propellent nature.
Clocking in at 40 minutes which by modern album standard duration times is a somewhat on the long side the album is an easy listen much due to the fact that we’re presented with ten straightforward songs that complement each other. You can listen to this album with headphones on, not doing anything else, trying to catch every single little sound there that occasionally appears to fill a small space, taking in all the arrangements and mastery of guitar sound and tone or just let it play on your laptop speakers while you browse the web and appreciate the catchiness of just plain good songs. Quilt gives their spin to a sound that has been tampered with much but managed to find their own groove inside it. This is not the album you obsess over but the album you come back to without really noticing it.
– Tiago M.