I don't mind a settings page, as long as it's easy to find and use.I don't mind a settings pages either, they are perfectly appropriate for some controls.
In Groups.io examples would be the controls in one's "Edit Profile" pages, or the choice of Email Delivery in one's Subscription page.
But I wouldn't want to have to go to the Subscription page to switch the Archive View between "Threads" and "Messages", nor to flip the date sorting order; I believe those (and the new controls I suggested) properly belong "in situ" - easily accessible on the page they control.
It can be even better if they are direct affordances, rather than choices in a menu. This can be subtle (the fact that the "Date" button immediately flips the order, rather than opening a menu where you need a second click to select "latest" or "oldest" first).
Or it can be more integrated. Such as having a movable bar on the screen that separates the message list from the preview of the selected message - and being able to turn off preview by simply sliding that bar all the way to the edge of the window. No menu needed.
But I'm not really a UI/UX expert, so I'll just throw the ideas out there without claiming that they are certainly the best (or even a better) way to do it. Sometimes it is more important to do things in a consistent fashion than to do a particular thing in the "slickest" fashion. A coherent UI goes a long way to making a site feel natural and easy to use, even if it has lots of powerful capabilities.
That's a lesson Yahoo badly failed in the Neo redesign. Every type of list of messages (pending, possible spam, archive, search results, and pending Pinboard posts when that existed) has a different appearance and different affordances for viewing, navigating, and interacting with the messages. That tends to make a site feel complex even when it can't actually do much.