U92 On the Review: Sneaks’ “Gymnastics”

September 27, 2016

Originally published in The DA (WVU's student newspaper)

Photo courtesy of Ground Control Booking

 

Bass guitar and drum machine: some would call this a rhythm section, but for Washington, DC singer-songwriter Eva Moolchan, those two instruments constitute her entire sound.

Drawing on the likes of early ‘80’s post-disco acts such as ESG and Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Moolchan strings out tight basslines over monotonous drum loops to create tracks that are minimal, yet highly danceable.

Perhaps taking a nod from fellow DC punks Minor Threat, Moolchan’s debut album as Sneaks, "Gymnastics," manages to squeeze in 10 whole songs over the incredibly short course of 14 minutes. As the tracks jump from one spastic bass groove to the next it almost seems like we’re being treated to one big song.

Just when it feels like we’re getting locked in, "Gymnastics" dodges homogeny with a carefully arranged tracklist: switching up the guitar tone on "X.T.Y." on track two, dropping out the drums entirely for the ritual-like "Down in the Woods" midway through and bringing in layers of synth and marimba on the closer "Someone Like That" that sound more akin to the primitive, distorted samples of an old children’s keyboard than anything modern.

Moolchan’s lyrics, sticking with the general pattern, are just as sparse and repetitive. In the opening track "Tough Luck" she condenses her issues with gender difference into just eight words: "Boy being: soft rocks. Girl being: tough luck." Other songs are more poetic. "New Taste" paints the lazy images of day-to-day consumer life in two-syllable chants while "Red" recounts a tiresome conversation with a "kind of lame" person over one of the catchiest riffs on the album.

"Gymnastics" sits quite nicely in the Sister Polygon Records catalog, run by similar disciples of minimalist art-punk, the band Priests. If you have an hour to kill, listen to this one four times. I guarantee Moolchan’s gurgling riffs will be stuck in your head for days.

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