When Quilt takes the stage at the Museum of Fine Arts’s Remis Auditorium on Friday to celebrate its just-released album, “Plaza,” it’ll represent a homecoming of sorts. The quartet formed when guitarists and vocalists Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler met at the MFA’s art-school affiliate, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, in the late 2000s. After releasing two albums while playing around Boston’s house-show scene, the band — which also includes vocalist-bassist Kevin Lareau and drummer John Andrews — put down roots outside of Boston before regrouping to put together “Plaza,” its third full-length.
“Plaza” is very much a rumination on place, with rich vocal harmonies arising from the band’s sun-dappled blend of folk-rock, chamber pop, and psychedelia, and lyrics depicting uncertainty and longing. From the jittery guitars and spiky synths that animate “Roller” to the gossamer strings that tie together the dreamy “Padova,” the album is jam-packed with moments of beauty that surprise and comfort.
“We are so used to each other as this traveling group, and wherever we are — whether it’s an old grocery store converted into a studio in Atlanta or a sprawling farmhouse in the middle of Illinois or a nightclub in Moscow — we bring our thing consistently,” says Rochinski from her home in upstate New York.
That familiarity is evident on songs like the swirling “Passerby” and the punchy “Hissing My Plea,” where the band shifts through styles that have their points driven home by crisp singing and the occasional rush of strings. (Simon Hanes, who put together the album’s string parts, will open Friday night’s show with his group Tredici Bacci, which pays homage to Italian film music of the ’60s and ’70s.)
“The places [the songs on ‘Plaza’] were written are so reflective of how things have changed for us individually over the last few years — transitioning and deciding where we want to rest our heads,” says Rochinski, a Brookline native.
Much of the beauty of Quilt’s music comes from the way it captures simple moments and places them under a microscope, which results in kaleidoscopic patterns emerging. Individual pieces that emerge — the clean, sing-song melody, played on guitar, that threads through “O’Connor’s Barn,” or the suspended-in-midair flute solo that arises in the middle of “Your Island” — sustain the album’s keenly observational mood.
“I experience contentment in melancholy a lot of the time,” says Butler via phone from his Brooklyn, N.Y., home. “But in those moments, in whatever form it comes, whether you’re with a partner, or laughing while watching comedy, or if you’re in an artistic process, or in a great conversation — when you let go completely, and are truly in the moment, that’s when you find yourself.”
Rochinski, Butler, and Andrews all have writing credits on “Plaza,” the songs created, in whole or in part, in places both far-flung and close to home.
“Looking back on some of the songs I brought to this album, they’re just really nice mementos,” says Rochinski. “‘Passerby’ was written several years ago when I lived in Cambridge; ‘Your Island’ reminds me of my uncle’s house in New Jersey. I come up with a lot of ideas when I’m driving, and there were definitely a lot of things I sang while driving that turned into songs.”
“I sit and I play every day, and I bring instruments with me on the road,” says Butler. “So if I’m somewhere — say, in Italy, where ‘Padova’ [was written] — I just make sure to play all the time, because you never know where things are going to come up. You have to put in the practice; you can’t just say, ‘Oh, things will come to me.’ But if you do put in the work, it’ll surprise you.”
“Plaza” is also very much a document of where Quilt is, time-wise: While its style can echo popular musical tropes of the past, the group is very firmly rooted in 2016, an age where trans-oceanic distances have been shrunken by technology.
“I really love a lot of contemporary music, and I really love a lot of old music, and I love that it’s accessible to me,” says Butler. “I didn’t grow up with record stores — I learned about music from skate videos. But when I moved to New York City I learned about record stores. And the great thing is that I can [walk in and] get any huge contemporary album, and go into the bins and search and find some weirdo folk record. And I can go home and listen to both, and the combination will help me produce anything I make.”
Friday’s show, during which the band will play in front of a to-be-determined film, kicks off a spring tour for the much-traveled Quilt. A trip back to where the band began seems like an appropriate place from which to launch yet another journey.
“I can’t believe it’s really happening. It was a pipe dream of mine for several years, and then it ended up being able to happen,” says Rochinski.
With Tredici Bacci. At Museum of Fine Arts, Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20. 800-440-6975. www.mfaboston.org
Maura Johnston can be reached at email@example.com.