Review: Rhye – “Woman”

February 22, 2013 1 comment

Woman


I’m a fool for that shake in your thighs/I’m a fool for that sound of your sighs…


Those were the first alluring lines heard as listeners were introduced to the mystic duo Rhye. When they appeared on the scene formally with the video for “Open” last year, it displayed an intimate look on casual sex and relationships. Since then, they have released an alternate video for the TV-friendly audience and it’s just as good. The music was just as sultry and engaging with the singer hidden visually, represented by a voice soft and angelic as Sade’s. That subtle approach made the mystery so much more appealing to listeners as for a minute it was not known if Rhye was a solo act or a band. Many writers even expected the vocalist to be a woman, but that speculation was silenced once it was revealed that the ones behind the enigmatic act were those familiar to the game.

Danish producer/songwriter Robin Hannibal (best known for his work with Quadron) and Canadian songwriter Michael Milosh unite to make an album that peels away in sensuality while using a considerable amount of restraint in Woman. For their debut as a unit, Hannibal and Milosh show a chemistry formidable in stripping elements of pop songwriting and smooth Quiet Storm. The layered production with rising strings and pulsating keys of the intro “Open” is mellowed by the hushed approach by Milosh. It sets the mood perfectly for how the next 36 minutes are going to go, filled with seductive howls and bedroom anthems.

Milosh, who has recently married, revels in his naked honesty exploring the subtle dynamics of affection. He yearns passionately for his lover to stay with him in “The Fall”, making a last-ditch effort to feel her touch. Michael also pushes and pulls in a tug-o-war on the sinisterly smooth “Last Dance”, and channels vibes eerily similar to Marvin Gaye on “Shed Some Blood”. The first few tracks on here give a great package that touches on the soul highlights effectively and rides all of the way through.

The way this album is arranged can be highly attributed to the focus of Hannibal and the direction he wanted to go musically. In a recent interview, Robin spoke on how he wanted to “create a feeling and tension” in the emotion from the elements used. The organic expression was very prevalent and wholly intense through the coos and ahhs reflecting from Milosh’s vocals. With the explosive and bouncy synths in “3 Days”, the psychedelic guitar strums on “One Of Those Summer Days” that builds and builds before adding the awesome saxophone solo at the end, and the two-step feel to “Hunger” gives Hannibal some of his brightest work since his Bobby EP.

Closing with the title track, it is merely an interlude with Milosh vocally warping the word “woman” repeatedly in Thom Yorke-fashion. The track itself does remind me of something from Kid A with its arrangement; strikingly hypnotic and chilling before abruptly ending in silence. The outro brings the entire album together in appreciation for the opposite sex and pleasantries they bring with them. Soaking in adoration and anguish is Milosh, as the sensation of feeling a woman’s embrace is so close he can almost taste it.

In an age where music has become over-sexualized, Rhye turns back the clocks of time while rewriting how it all works. It touches on all aspects of the loin warfare and keeping the passion at an emotional peak, bringing the listener to their highs and lows yet feeling whole. Robin Hannibal is looking to take 2013 by storm and if this is any indication he will be on top for a long while.

Rating: 8.7/10

Pre-order here