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The Mendoza Line | Lost in Revelry (Cooking Vinyl)
Following the release of two full-length records and an EP, The Mendoza Line (actually not a historical or geographical reference; apparently this is a baseball term â?? something about the minimum required to stay in the majors) left both their label Kindercore and the town of Athens, GA; they cited essential differences in approach as being at the root of this, and relocated to New York City. Their next recording, 'We're all in this alone' found a home on Bar None in 2000 and at this point in time the group's membership had swelled in number, from its original five, to seven. On 'Lost in Revelry' they are shorn to five once more, surviving the loss of founding member Margaret Maurice. The result of all of this is the sound of a band that has finally found itself, realising the potential that is coded in their four previous offerings. There is a new sense of resolve and cohesion; they have been revitalised, and have in the process managed to lose none of their trademark cynicism. Part Wilco, part Portastatic, The Mendoza Line are storytellers in command of an impressive emotional lexis, expressing complex feelings in dense, beautiful phrases which effortlessly compliment the record's intricate arrangements. Also welcomed is the more prominent position of Shannon McArdle, member of the group since 'I like you when you're not around'. Her compositions I'm That! and Red Metal Doors are among the best in the band's catalogue; her hushed, fragile voice provides refreshing diversity, and on songs like We're All in This Alone or It'll Be the Same Without You her backing vocals elevate a good song up into the category of greatness. There is nothing affected or forced about this band, and they seem to have been able intuitively - organically - to bring together their best elements. That is a quality that makes a great band, provided the raw material is there. And, of course, it is.
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002