Based on the name alone, it isn't hard to imagine an album called Held in Splendor by a band called Quilt as yet another exercise in twee Americana: the soundtrack to an Etsy buying binge, or a round of artisanal cocktails that precedes a wolf-suited wild rumpus. Luckily, that's not the case. The world put forth on Held in Splendor, the Boston trio's sophomore effort, is mossy and messy, a place to be moved through and lived in, not fetishized or encased in glass. It's clean and majestic, but it breathes.
With the benefit of a proper studio and the time to use it, Quilt has delivered a more cohesive album than its 2011 debut, which was recorded piecemeal and intermittently. Held offers delicately picked guitar, washes of organ and throaty harmonies by vocalist Anna Rochinski, with a lock-step backbeat that tracks muddy boot-prints across the album's 13 songs. Instrumentally, think of Fleet Foxes. Lyrically, think of the new-age wizardry of Ty Segall.
Quilt stomps through the album purposefully, but not gravely. It's a joyful journey, anchored in the purity of pop melody. And as pretty as that may sound, it's surprisingly utilitarian. The inertia of every note functions to facilitate the movement of the next. These songs are not meant to document an experience; instead they are the experience — a life in the world. "'Cause I am not self-contained / I'll lay here and fly away / but there goes my answer / the harder I look it goes farther," Rochinski sings on "Just Dust."