Release Date: Jan 25, 2019
Record label: Merge
We've all got one. Sometimes swagger can be just a trick of the mix: a blistering guitar solo or a throbbing sub. But sometimes it bleeds from artist to listener: all the Grace Joneses and Beyonces of the world wrapping us up in their leathers and shades, and turning our gum-stuck pavements into catwalks and red carpets. Bass-wielding DC native Sneaks - aka Eva Moolchan - has that kind of power in spades.
The old drivers say that when you stare ahead for hours on a long trip, the road can lull you into a trance. And that's not good when you're driving, because sleepy drivers are bound to veer off the road and crash. With her third album, then, Eva Moolchan has checked all three mirrors before steering her ninja-like minimalist project Sneaks down a decisively curvier route.
Already a figure in the Baltimore-Washington punk scene, Sneaks - aka Eva Moolchan - makes genre-bending music built on foundations of chilled-out post-punk. While her past offerings have skewed a more bass-heavy vibe, 'Highway Hypnosis' is an entirely different kind of entity. Her newest full-length is swarmed in rhythmic electronic beats resting on samples, synths and loops, at times a dark energy swirling underneath a restless, unsettled, beating sound.
Depending on your point of view, 2019's Highway Hypnosis is either the third album from post-punk artist Sneaks, or the first. Sneaks, born Eva Moolchan, has two previous releases to her credit, 2015's Gymnastics and 2017's It's a Myth, but those clocked in at 14 and 18 minutes, respectively, even though they featured ten songs each, so it's a judgment call whether or not they're full-length albums. Highway Hypnosis, however, boasts 13 tracks and runs almost half-an-hour, and its (relatively) grand scale dovetails with a greater stylistic ambition this time out.
A marked progression from her previous (brilliant) post-punk albums, Eva Moolchan's third record is a woozy masterclass in understatement, endlessly inspired and fizzing with ambience Sneaks does not fuck around; she favours short, sharp, effortlessly cool compositions that worm their way into your consciousness without breaking a sweat. Her 2016 debut, 'Gymnastics' clocked in at a brisk 14-minutes across 10 tracks. The next year, follow-up 'It's A Myth' added four minutes to the proceedings - and both times her unstated post-punk, consisting of only bass, drums and guitar, indicated her beginnings in the Washington, DC alternative scene.