Rhye - Woman

The mysterious duo creates a delicate and intimate listening experience that will hypnotize.

Additional Info

8.6

ALBUM: Woman

ARTIST: Rhye

2013

Electronic

The duo that has kept everyone asking questions about their identity as if they are the Cinderella of the music business leaving behind the glass slipper single, released in 2012, "Open", have released their wistful debut album. Woman is a seductive and sensual debut with the clandestine identity that is only fitting of the sound. The ambiguous vocals that reflect Sade and production that reflects musical projects such as The XX and How to Dress Well, Rhye has created a beautifully unique and fragile sound that resiliently attracts attention. Thus, the music world should be thankful when it turns out that electronic musician Mike Milosh and Danish producer Robin Hannibal were both fated to move to the United States and, as a result, ended in this mystical collaboration.

The album is focused on generating a sexual and intimate experience but in a cool and collected manner that doesn’t come off too steamy. All relating to different points or feelings within a relationship, the album explores the full emotional range from lust to love. The first two beginning tracks, "Open" and "The Fall", suggest the budding of the love affair as Milosh first coos of physical want in detail from the lover’s sighs to her thighs in "Open" then progresses to actual demands for intimacy in "The Fall". Each track sounding more emotionally connected and intense than the last, Woman employs an emotional Ferris wheel ride that displays the cyclic spirit of the doting sensation. The lyrical content of several of the tracks are purely poetic while conveying such passion. From the undeniable love that is felt on "Open" expressed in the words, “I’m a fool for the shake in your thighs/ I’m a fool for that sound in your sighs/ I’m a fool for you barely,” to the pain that is relatable to the point of becoming a cliché on "Last Dance", “Tell me lies and lullabies, but don’t tell me to change/ don’t give me that face,” there is a clear and articulately well versed range of emotion. The lust, the sex, the wanting and passion are all apparent, but would never expose their true vulnerability and extraordinary sentiment without the pain, the loss, and the fear that this album reveals.

What makes this a great album is not the content or idea alone, yet the way that Milosh and Hannibal have created a distinct and equally intimate sound. From breathtaking violins, jazzy saxophones, and funky bass lines, to the unique vocals of Milosh, it is a refreshing auditory experience. The vocals and sound do resemble the styling of Sade, yet in a more pop and modern manner. Milosh’s vocals are completely distinctive. The ambiguity of his vocals is especially intriguing since Milosh’s vocals do not exactly give away his gender from first listen. And with their identities hidden at first, this created much confusion. But there is something refreshing about the indifference to who exactly is singing the lyrics versus the feeling and experience that is conveyed via the music. Even more interesting is the title of the album with the irony of such a controversy. One can only wonder if the duo did the contrast on purpose. Making a comment on gender and the exploitation of sex within the music industry is brilliant. Music should not have to be about whom can twerk better, even though that may be sickly entertaining or whose name is on the album; it should be about the music itself. With no preconception of who is singing it or what to expect, Milosh and Hannibal have created a clean slate for this album. The album can only be judged for the art that it is; it’s genius. Regardless of Milosh’s identity, no one can deny his talent and purity that is harnessed within his vocal chords. His voice is the dominant reason for the emotion and delicacy of the sensual Woman.

From the elegant music construction to the angelic vocals, this album is a homerun that will sweep one off his or her feet. It is east today to give birth to a catchy love song, especially in the pop industry, but a true love song is not catchy or all about saying the “L” word. Its true success lies in the conjuring of the true emotion. It is difficult to define love honestly. It is not just as simple as saying it and it definitely does not come without the pain or vulnerability that trail behind. It’s a complex sensation, an experience. And that is what Rhye has impeccably encompassed with Woman. It’s an experience of heavy emotion that is projected through lyrics as well as production, and that’s why this album is successful. It’s an album about love that will have one conjuring that exact emotion for this album.

"Tell me lies and lullabies, don’t tell me to change, don’t give me that face."

1. Open
The first single released by Rhye, this track offers the perfect amount of longing and sex appeal. It’s a romantic experience cultivated through the compelling vocals of Milosh and simplistic production of Hannibal. Simple snapping background with a gracious bass line and keyboard, the track never reaches an intense climax but impeccably stays in this gorgeous state of nirvana. The track does not need a build up or anything really. It is not boring or not interesting enough. The track starts off with a beautiful orchestral introduction and lingers on with breathtaking lyrics. “I’m a fool for the shake in your thighs/ I’m a fool for that sound in your sighs/ I’m a fool for you barely/ I’m fool for you love,” Milosh coos with vulnerability to his lover. It’s a track that is contemplative and lustful. And like lust, causes an intense desire and hypnotizing effect. It’s a track that invades the eardrum with attention, attention that is rightfully deserved. 10.0
2. The Fall
The second track to the romantic album; inviting the listener immediately to the musical lover affair with the lines, “make love to me/ one more time/ before you go away/ Why can’t you stay.” It’s an ideal track that sounds as if Milosh is talking to an ex-lover about having one last intimate moment or even the denial of losing a loved one, but the track also acts as a persuading enticement to stay and endure this journey with Hannibal and Milosh. The attractive R&B styled melody with the charming piano blend beautifully with Milosh’s coos. Even though the content of the song is more melancholic, the vocals make it breathtakingly beautiful. A track that discusses the confusion of falling for a lover, but there should be no confusion for falling for this track. 9.0
3. Last Dance
“Tell me lies and lullabies, but don’t tell me to change/ don’t give me that face,” croons Milosh the poetic and elegant lyrics that describe what sounds like a metaphor for the end of a relationship. “Game on, game on,” Milosh continues as if trying to see which opponent will give in first. The eighties synths on this track sound a bit outdated but are balanced out by the subtle bass and funk guitar. The vocals are like silk and truly exquisite. The section where the synths fade and the bass is the only thing carrying Milosh’s singing is incredible with the harsh whisper and airy subtlety topped off with some breezy saxophone or clarinet. It’s a heated song with a cool tempered momentum making for a highly enjoyable track that will leave a slight fever. 9.5
4. Verse
Another pulsating track that grabs the attention at the chorus. The Asian feel of the track is different compared to the rest of the album and is refreshing. The violins against the main rhythm have a sorrowful sound, as Milosh cries, “Ain’t got a second to waste, Oh I know.” The delicate addition of the piano is a good choice. The song has a slow start but as soon as the drama of the song picks up it has a good progression. But the song comes to an unexpected stop. It seems as though the song is unfinished or is just not reaching its full potential. 8.5
5. Shed Some Blood
This song is the most directly painful of the love affair with the lyrics, “Don’t want to hear your voice on the phone/ want to be your choice not just a moan/ don’t call me love, unless you mean it.” The narrator wants to be more than just a lover and “sheds some tears” over the matter because he or she knows that it will not happen. The track has a sassy tone with the funk guitar and more upbeat rhythm. It is as if Milosh knows that this will happen even though he does not want it to. The funk guitar and jumpy bass work well on this track along with the violins that are played over the “shed some tears” lyrics, which portrays the more sorrowful tone of the song. The track may not be a star single of the album, but it is necessary for the emotional experience of the album. 8.0
6. 3 Days
With a nice harp introduction into a seduction heavy synth rhythm, the track starts off slow paced with Milosh howling in the background. Saxophone and piano bits are thrown in here and there. The track slowly builds momentum and eases into itself. The lyrics hold great passion with the lines, “Stealing kisses with those misses within beats/ stealing kisses in those bloody sheets/ I’m killing you…I’m killing you,” and “3 days to feel each other, crack this spine/ It’s gonna crack, cave in on itself/ love is terminal not built to last.” The talk of a short-lived love affair and the inevitable of its ephemeral nature. It’s a great track with all the complications of production to match the complexity of love. 8.5
7. One of Those Summer Days
One thing that Rhye has proven to execute well on this album is not only creating emotionally provocative music, but also creating an experience and this track especially displays that skill. With the hollow and airy guitar bit and shimmering keyboard that create this peaceful atmosphere with a small buildup of Milosh’s echoed vocals and sensual saxophone and string section, the production is harmonious and infinitely flowing. The musical experience conjures the feeling of the sun blazing down on the face and twinkling before the eyes. It’s not too hot or humid and there is no worry of getting sun damage or where the closest store that sells a bottle of water is, and just as Milosh repeats over and over, "It’s one of those pretty summer summer days.” The delicate nature of the song is something to get lost in with no worry of ever finding a way back. 9.0
8. Major Minor Love
The pulsating track starts off slow with the wooing of Milosh as the malicious lyrics start along with the wailing of a violin. The bass keeps up like a slow heart beat. The lyrics are again romantic and gorgeous with lines like, “I’ll lace you thighs with beautiful lies, kidnap your mind/I’ll find help you find a gentle pain that runs through your veins.” The track cuts off suddenly then picks back up with a twinkling piano in the background, which is a bit confusing as it seems to come out of no where. There seems to be a longing for a build up but nothing ever comes, which leaves the song lacking a certain finished effect. 6.5
9. Hunger
The funky bass line and clarinet-like sounds make this track sound like something out of Saturday Night Fever, but its nostalgia is what makes it enticing. It’s a playful song that shows a more libidinous tone. The shrilling saxophone and thrilling jazzy feel keeps the track alive as Milosh sings, “I’ll show my teeth, pull the sword from the sheath/ started to drool down the side of your face/ I thought we were made for love.” It’s a funky track that makes one want to get on his or her feet. The saxophone solo paired with whimsical squeals in the background is invigorating and playful. The melancholic lyrics contrasted against the energetic beat are frivolous and cool. It is a great track. 9.0
10. Woman
The intimate experience of Rhye’s debut album has finally come to an end and this is the last hurrah, the last touching moment. The carousal like beginning is gripping but an odd choice compared to the rest of the album. The peculiar beat and repetitive nature of the lyrical content is successful as a closing song and still enigmatic like the rest of the album. It’s intriguing and mysterious for a track as it may be paying homage to the female gender and its fragility or just the feminine nature of the music. As the saxophone and violin chime in towards the end of the track, a restrained climax is being reached and the unexpected stop works for the track. It seems though, as graceful as the track is, its purpose is not as well defined. 7.5
Narsimha Chintaluri is a creative writer currently satiating his need to write by venting about music, tv and film on any given platform.



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