Music

Rhye: Woman

Rhye move between muted disco and yearning ballads on their debut album.


Rhye

Woman

Label: Polydor
US Release Date: 2013-03-04
UK Release Date: 2013-03-04
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Rhye is a jet-setting collaboration, the work of Denmark's Robin Hannibal and Canada's Mike Milosh. Hannibal has recorded albums as part of Quadron, a Danish group that favors the swing of '60s soul – often updated with synthesizers or augmented with minimal string arrangements – and a lusher set of R&B sounds – Quadron has covered Michael Jackson's "Baby Be Mine" and collaborated with Leon Ware, a master of sexually-expressive, heavily orchestrated funk like Marvin Gaye's I Want You and Ware's own Musical Massage. Milosh is no stranger to this style, since he has also released some slinky electronic R&B music on the same label as Quadron. What started out as just a remix project for the two musicians turned into a couple of new songs, a burst of positive internet response, a shower of Sade references ("My voice has been compared to Sade's tons in my career; it wasn't a shock," said Milosh matter-of-factly), a lot of people saying that Rhye was a female duo with beautiful voices, and then a full album, Woman.

Woman splits its time between muted disco and yearning ballads, working with the tools of several genres of smooth '80s pop and R&B. Most of the songs build around synths or keyboards. The funkier, more up-tempo numbers assemble themselves around a precise and steady beat, sturdy and flirting with the dance floor but not quite muscular, while the percussive base on the slower tunes leans towards soft sets of pops and clicks (on one song, it sounds like there’s a steel drum in there), or sometimes nothing at all. Guitars, horns, and strings flicker around to add definition. The songs are light around the edges, clear but never sharp. Things often end abruptly, like the group just drifted till it ran out of gas.

Milosh handles much of the singing. He favors long phrasings, holding notes but making quick twists and turns, rolls and quavers. All the singing is gentle – Milosh said in an interview, "I don’t actually sing that high...I just sing soft" – and sometimes it's multi-tracked, with the layers tracing languid curves in the air. The songs often start with a hint of a bang (pun intended), as Milosh sings "I'm a fool for that shake in your thighs," "Make love to me," "I'm famished, so I'll eat your minerals." But the way the words are sighed and stretched diffuses their come-on into whisps of longing. Key lines are repeated: "Don't call me love / unless you mean it," "Don't tell me to change."

Though Rhye's music is intimate and vulnerable, Milosh seems in control – perhaps he's one of those smooth operators Sade sang about. His vocal tone is subtly imperialistic, bending the other instruments to its will, so that they begin to sound like modulated echoes of his thoughts and desires. Again and again, Milosh warns his lover; he'll "lace your thighs with beautiful lies," he's "so bad." Moments later, he's asking her to stay: "Don't run away / Don't slip away my dear;" "I know your faded...stay;" "Don't walk away." But don't tell him to change either – Milosh sucks you in with his honesty, and then you're caught in his trap.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image