Quilt exhibits many of the outward symptoms of being a freak-folk band: the campfire harmonies, the free-floating mysticism, the sonic experimentation rooted in ’60s classicism. Where Quilt diverges is in its adherence to convention; at no point on its self-titled full-length debut does the Massachusetts trio stray from hummable melodies and easily discernable song structures. For all its “freaky” trappings, Quilt is first and foremost a pop-rock band, and judging by Quilt, it has the makings of being quite a good one.
The multi-part harmonies of Shane Butler, Anna Fox Rochinski, and John Andrews form the core of Quilt’s sound—it’s the band’s most arresting attribute, and a ubiquitous presence throughout the LP. The vocals also are the most retro (if not flat-out derivative) aspect of the album, making comparisons to Top 40 hippie bands like the Mamas And The Papas and Jefferson Airplane a little too easy. (The trippy “The Silver Stairs Of Ketchikan” practically begs to be accompanied with burning incense and passages from the I Ching.)
But even if the reference points are clear, the execution is frequently winning, particularly when the songwriting is at its sharpest on the standout song “Penobska Oakwalk,” where a jangly guitar line and a softly pounding tribal beat anchor Butler’s interplay with his bandmates’ beatific backing vocals. “Cowboys In The Void” is another sunshine-pop delight, dramatically shifting gears from spaced-out verses to a hopped-up, guitar-driven approximation of a late-night pagan ritual. Mystery abounds on Quilt; thankfully, so do hooks.