Mettle is the debut album from a band that most
people have never even heard of. Shame too, since Archers
of Loaf was one of the better "college radio"
bands to come out of the early 90's. Anyone that's heard
their material will draw immediate comparisons to Pavement,
which is fair. There are several noticeable differences
however; Archers throws in distortion, white noise,
and jagged melodies, making them less accessible than
their popular slacker contemporaries. Here, the abrasive
elements of the band are combined with strange and sometimes
humorous lyrics to make for an interesting song formula.
It's almost as if the band is afraid to be likeable,
because most of the tracks are straight pop songs cleverly
disguised under a layer of discordant noise and almost
strained singing. Just listen to "Web in Front"
or the dense "Might" for a good example. For
variety, there's the intentionally funny "Toast,"
the addictive "Fat," and the scorching "Sick
File." Fans of slacker/college rock should give
Icky Mettle a try.