Split Premiere: Greg Mendez / Rachel Lightner (Nervous Dater)

Posted: by The Editor

“Everyone is fuckin’ around,” Greg Mendez sings with a slippery inflection on “Ride,” the second track on his eight-song split with Nervous Dater frontperson Rachel Lightner. Although he references losing a job and leaving town, the narrative of the track isn’t exactly clear, and neither is that line. The words just fall out of him like an exasperated observation of our hopeless culture. “Everyone is fuckin’ around.” No one really knows what they’re doing, and no one has the means to figure it out if they wanted to.

That sentiment of frustrated incompetence—socially, romantically, and professionally—encapsulates a lot of what Lightner and her Nervous Dater bandmates sang about on last year’s Don’t Be A Stranger, and she treads similar ground on her half of this split.  “Yeah” is about a crumbling relationship, and “Saddest Song” is about wallowing in the realization that she’s adopted her father’s vices. Both situations deal with Lightner having to confront a loss of control, which she juxtaposes with carefully arranged keyboard lines speckled over acoustic guitar plucks. It’s beautiful music about ugly scenarios.

Mendez’ side uses Elliott Smith austerity to sing grimly about self-destruction and dark secrets, strumming purposefully and leaking out minor-key melodies through his unschooled croon. A good split has to feature artists who are distinct from one another but also play to each other’s strengths. Mendez and Lightner succeed because they’re both very different voices writing very different songs about pretty similar feelings. Although they both recognize the futility in feeling prepared for the capitalistic hellscape that is adulthood in our age, these songs are proof that they’re capable of much more than just “fuckin’ around.”

Stream all of them below:

Eli Enis | @eli_enis

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