A wonderfully bizarre trip back to the ’80s
Eva Moolchan—better known as Sneaks—stays true to her roots in her new album Happy Birthday, remaining unafraid to take the road less traveled. Before going solo, Moolchan was a founding member of ShitStains, a member of the Young Trynas and a part of Blood, a noise-music project dedicated to deconstructing the conventional ideas of music and experimenting with non-traditional sound. Her musical expertise and appreciation for the unconventional are unmistakable in Happy Birthday and Moolchan worked closely with mixing engineer Carlos Hernandez and producer Jacknife Lee to truly bring her poetic vision to life.
While her music may not be for everyone, fans of Sneaks will be happy to discover she’s only expanded on her wonderfully bizarre sound. Each track in the album is marked with her characteristically bewildering yet poetic lyrics—all sung in spoken-word fashion—and hypnotic synths creating a cocktail of hip hop, post-punk and electronic beats in every song.
Happy Birthday is almost purely a work of art as opposed to music. If it weren’t for the expertly mixed instrumentals to accompany Moolchan’s vocals, the whole album would read like a complex log of poetry with varying motifs. Contrary to the approach taken by most musicians, the theme and consistency on the album are tied together by the synthesized keyboard and bass, as opposed to any lyrical subject vocalized by Moolchan herself. That isn’t to say that the music is repetitive, as it’s surprisingly refreshing from track to track despite the album maintaining the same carefree feeling throughout its duration.
The first song “Do You Want to Go Out Tonight,” is slowly filled with synthesized keyboards, drum beats and horns as Moolchan repeats “tell me do you want to go out tonight,” the only lyrics in the entire song. The minimal lyrical work places a large emphasis on the escalating synthetic beats creating a feeling reminiscent of the ’80s. The second track “Faith,” utilizes tight baselines, tambourine and a variety of percussion synths to ensnare the listener, creating a distinct beat as the track quickly becomes filled with a variety of synthesized horns and bells. Moolchan’s slowly-delivered vocals serve to balance the business of the instrumental intensity so the listener can still feel light and carefree. Listening to Sneaks is quite similar to watching fireworks—enjoying a fiery energetic explosion from a position of serenity and comfort—as she has a way of expertly weaving together contradictory feelings of calm and excitement into one song.
Though the instrumentals definitely take the mainstage on Happy Birthday, Moolchan also approached the album with poetic lyrical purpose. This is typical for Sneaks yet it’s often difficult to decipher the true meaning of her elusive lyrics, as there are very few to work with from track to track. The most glaring were featured on the song “You’ve Got a Lot of Issues,” where she chants “you’ve got a lot of issues to work out/ you take it out on society,” concisely conveying many shared societal issues stemming from individual problems made public. In “Sanity,” her unapologetic delivery of the lyrics “If the kids complain/ let them complain/ I need some time for my vanity,” dissects the weird nature of self-acceptance in the modern era. Her few lyrics are cryptic and hard to define, just like Sneaks herself.
Sneaks is hard to define, but she probably doesn’t want to be anyway. Whether people are in need of some beats to kick back and relax to or are interested in divining something new from her poetic lyrics, Sneaks is sure to entertain and inspire listeners everywhere to embrace their peculiarities and live in the moment.