From where I’m standing, today’s beach bleached, stoner psych-rock is coloring the mainstream with its multicolored melodies. As someone who is quick to assign psychedelic rock as my favorite genre, I welcome the influx of Tame Impala lookalikes. I mean I’m really a sucker for reverbed guitar. But the meat--that historically trippy, off-kilter, warm, mind-bending feel the old 70s legends radiated has been watered down. Fear not Jefferson Airplane nostalgics, Plaza, Quilt’s latest album has excavated the piece of psych rock I first fell in love with.
Plaza was co-written by the band, each one adding their own flavor to a well-simmered song collection. It begins with an easygoing, gripping first track, "Passerby." Vocals from Anna Fox Rochinski warmly invite you to settle in for a listen. Then the album solidifies itself in their single, "Roller." It’s a woozy, bubbly tune for a story about being stuck in a relationship—of any kind. I appreciate not all their songs are about lovers. They write about Google searches (loosely interpreted), cults, and tragic 80s Hollywood to name a few.
"Eliot St." recalls early Of Montreal and Woods with sinewy vocals and malleable guitar lines. But it's the orchestral backing that adds an unpretentious depth. It’s like having a conversation about the ‘big stuff’ with a level-headed friend. It’s these sonic and ideological cues that make Plaza diverse enough to keep you guessing but cohesive enough to keep you hooked. Their confident, casual psych-rock swagger is tied and solidified by intriguing and accessible songwriting.
The real gem on this album “Padova” comes unexpectedly. It begins with a moving brush drum beat, then lingering folk guitar lures tears out of the dusty corners of your eyes. Sporadically written on tour by Shane Butler after his mother’s passing, “Padova” is the emotional apex of the album. Harp flourishes are played as if the instrument was strung with heart strings; matched with barely there piano, and gentle harmonies, the song paints a picture of melancholy reverence.
Quilt has mastered their sound in an effortless display. Plaza expresses the human condition through familiar, inviting, and full songwriting. I’ll be playing this one on repeat for the foreseeable future.