If you talk to enough musicians — or read about them, or surveil them through the looking glass of social media — you know that different players illuminate their work in different ways. A conversation about the grand mysteries of sound can start in a dark room, then clack, the artist flips a switch and everything lights up. Instead of feeling around for the light switch, Eva Moolchan — the 21-year-old Silver Spring native who performs as Sneaks — recently explained her music as if she were toting a flashlight. She pointed it around the room, offering a sense of where things stood, but we were still in the dark.
That felt like the perfect way to do it, too, considering that Moolchan’s music feels so straightforward, yet so unknowable. The songs on Sneaks’s magnetic second album, “It’s a Myth” — due out this month via indie powerhouse Merge Records — are mostly made with bass guitar, drum machine and Moolchan’s voice, landing in a sweet spot between early hip-hop and minimal post-punk. I told Moolchan that her terse lyrics (“What do they look like?”; “I’m staring at a screen”; “P-B-and-J and a knock on my door”) often sounded internal, as if she were transposing the thought bubbles in her head. I was wrong about that. “It’s totally external,” she said. “I’m this walking embodiment of whatever I’m around.” So her songs were about absorbing life in its mundane entirety? “Yeah,” she said in a way that sounded like “maybe.”
How about “Hair Slick Back” and its puzzling refrain, “Hair slicked back ’cause I can’t relax”? What was she absorbing in that standout new track? “There was this phase I was in where my hair was actually pinned back. I was so aerodynamic,” Moolchan said. “So it sums up that phase.”
At that point, the metaphorical flashlight clicked off, but everything was making as much sense as it could: Even the most banal aspects of our existence can be fantastically weird, and Sneaks’s songs are doing the brave work of trying to convey that weirdness with as much clarity as possible. Yeah. Maybe.
Show: With Downtown Boys on Wednesday at Rock & Roll Hotel. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-388-7625. $12.