The Mendoza Line has been steadily refining its brand of intimate, emotional indie rock over its last several albums. FORTUNE bears traces of both the band's rootsier influences and the ragged, rock-oriented sound of its 1997 debut. There are examples of Dylan-esque folk ("Fellow Travelers"), country ("Faithful Brothers [Scourge of the Land]"), classic rock ("An Architect's Eye"), and the confessional singer-songwriter tradition ("Let's Not Talk About It").
But the Mendoza Line is not a mere throwback, and the intelligent sensitivity that characterizes the songwriting is channeled through a tension in the group's sound. The organic stylistic hodge-podge, narrative, literate lyrics, and male-female vocal tradeoffs, keep the record from slipping into tepid folk-rock. Additionally, "Before I Hit the Wall" conveys a youthful combination of exuberance and ennui with its full-tilt energy, pop hooks, and lyrics about existential confusion, and "It's a Long Line ("But It Moves Quickly)" plays like roots rock meeting new wave. FORTUNE finds the Mendoza Line building a reputation as honest, expressive songwriters, yet managing to keep its sound fresh, lively, and appealing.