Two’s the lucky number for split/haves—from their name to the title of their newest release, and the number of songs on their EP, Diptych, which features two short but satisfying songs. Vocalist Trevor Nierendorf said the theme of twos happened by coincidence.

The two tracks are quite different upon first listen; “Sediment” eases into itself, as the instrumentation builds beneath introspective lyrics, while “Apathetic Bones” barrels ahead at the beginning before pulling back for moments reflection. Despite the contrasts, the songs balance one another out with confessional lyrics and calculated guitar.

“Sediment” is a song about memories. “The sentiment of sediment,” Nierendorf sings in the opening line. He explained to us that the line “is specifically about walking along the beach in New Hampshire with my girlfriend right before we started ‘officially’ dating, so that memory and setting have a lot of sentimental value to me.” Swells of guitar that echo underneath Nierendorf’s vocals take you along the rising and falling shoreline with him as “Sediment” explores the pair’s relationship.

And that sense of sentimental value is conveyed through the sound throughout the song—which, according to Nierendorf, is accomplished with “open tunings and major 7 chords.” The open tuning allows for split/halves to explore the depth of their instruments’ ranges as well as the emotions evoked in the lyrics, both plunging to the heaviness of perhaps more negative memories and soaring to the peak of happier ones. The guitar is flickering and complex while the drums add a touch of simplicity, carrying a constant rhythm that propels the song forward and upward. For every thickly layered, heavy measure there comes a delicate, lightly plucked one, leaving a sense of balance in sound and the narrative’s relationship.

Nierendorf said heaviness isn’t necessarily what split/halves are trying to convey in “Sediment.” “We like to play with dynamics within a song a lot, and to me, those heavier sections don’t necessarily represent darker feelings, but rather more intense emotion,” he said. “This is probably most influenced by post rock— sometimes there’s nothing like a good ol’ crescendo.”

While “Sediment” tackles a romantic relationship, Nierendorf said “Apathetic Bones” is about friendship. “You can probably figure out most of it if you listen closely, but I’d rather not say too much,” he said. “Musically, especially at the beginning, there is an intentional dichotomy between the vocals and instrumentation, kind of meant to throw off the listener from what I’m actually saying. Then at the end, it resolves itself to instrumentation slightly more befitting of the vocals.”

The instrumentation in “Apathetic Bones” is rollicking and lighthearted, at least compared to the lyrics. Its buoyancy is driven by the drums and guitar, with the bass anchoring it to the melancholic lyrics. But as the song goes on, the guitar pulls back, allowing the mood to shift to better suit the narrative of the song.

The polarity of the songs comes in large part from the recording process. “Not only recording just two songs but at two different studios definitely had an effect of creating different dynamics between the songs,” Nierendorf said. Split/halves recorded Diptych at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio as well as Mad Oak Studios. He added that pairing the songs together happened out of convenience since split/halves finished writing and arranging them around the same time.

Nierendorf said that Diptych isn’t technically a follow-up to split/halves 2016 debut, Ephemera, but thematically it does echo the LP. Ephemera came into being after Nierendorf began a project where he wrote one song per month, which he based on a single memorable experience from that month. Diptych is similarly experiential in that respect, with “Sediment” and “Apathetic Bones” embodying two separate, memorable experiences.

“At its core Ephemera is a collection of experiences, and Diptych, which is two more separate narratives, is definitely an extension of that,” he said. “I think [Diptych’s] short length does make it tough to stand on its own without being lumped into our only other release. But after this, we do plan to do another full length, which I think will be a little different lyrically and musically.”

split/halves, which names Death Cab For Cutie, Brand New, and Into It. Over It. as influences—with Nierendorf noting that they’re fans of the terms “Mash Rock” and “Rutgaze” when describing their sound beyond genres—embodies post-punk emo in Diptych in two unique, complex narratives.

As far as the number two goes, Nierendorf chose his favorite things that come in pairs: “Eyes (depth perception is cool), ears (stereo is cool). And Chainz.”

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