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."