Rumors of an Archers of Loaf reunion have run rampant through message boards for years. Oddly, it has escalated interest in a band that broke up in part due to widespread lack of interest.
Once ranked the top contender for Pavement’s slackerweight title, Archers of Loaf were rarely uninteresting, with its knots of oddly tuned guitars and obtuse Southern poetry. The “Loaf” in the name belied the North Carolina band’s ambition and complexity, two traits that have kept the group’s reputation afloat as they did for the Dismemberment Plan and Shudder to Think, to name two other recently reunited quirky art bands of a ’90s vintage.
Aside from the thrilling six-string interplay and bassist Matt Gentling’s heavy headbanging, the greatest asset lay in Eric Bachmann’s writing. “All I ever wanted was to be your spine,” he rasps on the group’s brilliant apex, and second single, “Web in Front.” His smartly elliptical lyrics made his move into creaky, Tom Waits–ian Americana as Crooked Fingers inevitable after the Archers’ death.
This ur-indie tangle deserves to be rediscovered as much as any band of the era. A reissue campaign, starting with the relatively overrated debut, Icky Mettle (Vee Vee is better), is imminent and necessary, given that few of the band’s releases remain in print. The excitement surrounding this reunion is authentic and contagious, a genuine grassroots love driven by cult affection.