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Archers Of Loaf: All The Nations Airports

Album: All The Nations Airports
Label: Elektra

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It should be impossible for a band as obtuse and unpredictable as Archers of Loaf to be as consistent as it has been on each of its four records. The new All the Nations Airports, coming on the heels of one of the most impressive compilations of outtakes in recent memory (The Speed of Cattle), is arguably the band's strangest and most experimental work yet: The album is slower and quieter—particularly during its second half—and it doesn't seem as angry as say, Icky Mettle. But it's no less satisfying. Archers of Loaf is one of the few bands that could assign song titles like "Assassination on X-Mas Eve" and "Strangled by the Stereo Wire," and then actually couple those titles with unforced lyrics about an assassination on Christmas Eve and strangulation by a stereo wire. (An exception to this rule: "Bombs Away," which is just a pretty piano solo.) Abrasive and testy, the band doesn't make it easy on the listener by falling back on conventions. But as All the Nations Airports effectively illustrates, a more complicated ride is much more memorable, and at least as satisfying.