Album Reviews

Rhye – Woman

(Innovative Leisure/Polydor) UK release date: 4 March 2013


Rhye - WomanRobin Hannibal and Mike Milosh are the duo which forms Rhye, who already seem to be one of the most talked-about acts of 2013. The pair are label mates on Plug Research, a Los Angeles label that’s home to artists including Bilal, Flying Lotus and Daedelus. Hannibal and Milosh have only recently revealed themselves to be the musicians behind Rhye. Initially, it was unclear whether the mysterious act were a collective band or simply just a solo singer.

Before knowing who they were, some critics even believed that they had a female singer singing the vocals on their tracks. This was an understandable mistake, as Milosh’s falsetto vocals are so smooth and effortless and carry a distinct feminine vibe. Many people have already compared their vocal style to the breathy voices of Sade and Cassandra Wilson.

The music video for Rhye’s lead single The Fall is fantastic, and incredibly well choreographed. It resembles the ultimate midlife crisis – when long-time partners have fallen out of love and realise that they’re each bored of the other and want something more from the relationship. Although that idea in itself doesn’t sound hugely original, the video works perfectly with the music accompanying it; it’s simple, yet poignant.

Even on its own without the music video, The Fall remains to be one of those tracks which effortlessly works its way into your head. Rhye’s soulful take on minimalist pop, with its graceful piano, combined with sweeping cellos and yearning lyrics, makes pressing the repeat button inevitable.

Along with Hannibal’s gorgeously toned down production, Milosh’s languorous whimpers confirm the beautiful simplicity of this record. The vocals play a lead role here, whilst the instrumentation ensconces itself into the background. Expect to hear anything from harps to steel pans – yet it doesn’t sound cluttered.

The simplicity of this record also makes each track seem ready for remixes. The backings to some of the more funky tracks such as Last Dance and Shed Some Blood seem to resemble slowed-down Breakbot instrumentals, whilst the ethereal harp of 3 Days introduces the opening lyric “oooh I’m famished, so I’ll eat your minerals” perfectly. Although the record will be a great one to play in the kitchen in the morning, it’s hard to be sure on how this music would hold up in a large venue or festival.

By the time we get to One of Those Lovely Summer Days, the question surely begged is: “Is Mike Milosh going to experiment a bit more with the vocals?” Although this simple approach works well on most of the album, some of the particularly stripped-down tracks require a little more variation in vocal range to make them sound engaging. The album’s initial momentum is not quite there by the three quarter distance, but Woman is an album that more than merits time.


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