SHANNON MCARDLE: Summer Of The Whore [Bar/ None]

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially if she happens to be a songwriter with the means to release her fury. Summer Of The Whore isn’t just a break-up album, it’s a vivisection. In brutally frank terms, it outlines the betrayal and dissolution of Shannon McArdle’s marriage to Timothy Bracy, her creative foil in the now-defunct Mendoza Line. From the outset, you know things aren’t good. “Poison My Cup,” though sonically lush and jangly, is lyrically toxic: “Don’t open that good wine, no honey, just fuck me up.” Things get darker from there, as song titles “Leave Me For Dead,” “I Was Warned” and “He Was Gone” suggest. Yet with words as her catharsis, music becomes McArdle’s salve, unspooling strings-laden Americana, ethereal dream pop, upbeat indie rock with a ’60s girl-group flavor, strummy folk rock and more. That her inviting murmur—a cross between Tift Merritt, Jenny Lewis and Chan Marshall—is so warm and not iced over from her ordeal makes Summer Of The Whore all the more intoxicating. In hindsight, the Mendoza Line was, despite its decade-long tenure, a combination of alt-rock influences in search of a firm identity. It’s worth noting, however, that a recurring theme in the group’s songs was personal/sexual politics, so it’s difficult not to imagine that whatever tension was brewing behind the scenes was mirrored on its albums. On Summer Of The Whore, McArdle takes that tension and pulls it until it snaps violently, leaving both artist and listener more than a little stunned. [www.bar-none.com]

—Fred Mills

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