Oh my god it's another insanely massive week for new releases! Will it ever stop? It's hard to really complain with a stacked week like this, so many big bands and albums, apart from where to start listening. I review 11 new albums including Arctic Monkeys, Archers of Loaf's first since 1998, Dry Cleaning, Sloan, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (third album this month), Robyn Hitchcock (ft Johnny Marr, his former Soft Boys bandmates and more), The Soft Pink Truth (Matmos' Drew Daniel), Swedish psych-funk groovers Goat, electronic artist Hagop Tchaparian, '90s survivors Too Much Joy, and Alice Boman. At least half of these deserve Album of the Week status. So can we just declare this week to be Week of the Year?
Over in Notable Releases, Andrew reviews another 11, including Dawn Richard & Spencer Zahn, Pinkshift, Wiki, Brutus, and more.
Need more? Lawrence of Felt / Denim fame is back as Mozart Estate, and Orbital and Sleaford Mods have teamed up for a fantastic new single. Plus: John Cale & Weyes Blood together at last, and The Go-Betweens' Robert Forster has a new album on the way.
Be sure to visit the Indie Basement section of the BV shop, that's stocked with vinyl and merch from Pavement, Wet Leg, Parquet Courts, Beach House, Broadcast, Stereolab, Belle & Sebastian, Talking Heads, Spoon, Lilys, Cocteau Twins, Can, Dinosaur Jr and lots, lots more.
Head below for this week's review overload.
Archers of Loaf - Reason in Decline (Merge)
Older, gentler but no less pissed off, Archers of Loaf are in fine form on their first album since the '90s
Chapel Hill indie rock greats Archers of Loaf have been back together for a decade but it's taken a while to decide they a) wanted to make a new record and to then b) actually do it. Eric Bachmann, Eric Johnson and non-Erics Matt Gentling and Mark Price clearly spent a lot of time thinking about what the first Loaf album in nearly 25 would sound like, and what it wouldn't. “What I really think about going back to the Archers and doing a new record is that the three other members of this band are awesome," says Bachmann. "It’s not about responding to the past or whatever our bullshit legacy is. I just wanted to work with these guys because I knew the chemistry we had and that we still have. I knew that was rare.”
For fans expecting the band who gave us raw-throated rippers Icky Mettle and Vee Vee, the group have somewhat moved away from that sound. Bachman had to get nodes on his vocal chords lasered off in 1999 which, doctor's orders, mandated a gentler singing style, and drummer Mark Price was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome around the same time, both of which added to the band's breakup. It's also made for a gentler new Archers of Loaf album, though that may have happened anyway. People mellow out, it happens! But you can feel that chemistry in Reason in Decline, an album that's just as anthemic and angry as their '90s work, just a little more considered and maybe a little less loud. This is an album born of the last 10 years, the last six in particular, and Bachmann's disgust and disbelief is front and center in indie rock power anthems like "In the Surface Noise," "Misinformation Age," and "Mama Was a War Profiteer." This is a tight, satisfying record -- 10 songs, 35 minutes, no filler and few solos -- and they do deliver at least one classic '90s-style rager with the strident "Screaming Undercover" that gives the album its title. Reason may be in decline but Archers of Loaf are definitely not.
Grab 'Reason in Decline' and other Loaf albums on vinyl