The Boston-based trio Quilt diversifies the friendly lite-psych of their self-titled with a menagerie of new sounds on their sophomore effort Held in Splendor. Friends swing by, bringing their saxophones, violins, cellos, steel guitars and effects pedals with them, and that spectrum of instrumentation brings new possibilities. In addition, Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler and John Andrews all trade lead vocal duties this time, and the varied voicings helps maintain interest throughout the album as a whole.
Unfortunately, most tracks on Held in Splendor can’t seem to hook listeners into finding and appreciating those sonic intricacies in the first place. The brass in “The World Is Flat,” weaves its way between the rhythmic guitar lines in a way that could almost make smooth jazz cool, but with little to no melodic variation, the two-minute instrumental ends up sounding like filler. Luckily, it leads into “Tired & Buttered” and “I Sleep in Nature,” the two most up-tempo, harmonically intriguing songs on the album. Both evoke the heyday of ’60s psychedelic pop, something their debut also did well. But Quilt don’t quite have the tunes to match their ambitious yet, so by the end of the record, a certain groggy, semi-conscious feeling pervades, like waking up from a deep, dream-filled sleep unable to process or recall what may or may not have happened in your slumber.