The duo consisting of Mike Milosh and Robin Braun, known together as Rhye, would in 2013 release Woman. Woman aggressively dealt with the softer parts of life and love. Bold in its message, but delivered with a fragile gentleness, almost soft to the touch; Woman did little to avoid the comparisons to Sade. Milosh’s ethereal, androgynous vocal melodies paired with lush production on pieces such as ‘Open’ and ‘The Fall’ would proceed to create an internet frenzy, garnering critical acclaim from most publications.
It wasn’t until early 2017 that Braun would proceed to leave the group, leaving Rhye a solo project with Milosh and a backing band, centered around its live performances. Blood, under the command of Milosh, continues what was started on Woman. In terms of musicianship, it’s a direct step up from the studio experiment that was their previous album. Each note and measure is calculated, crisp, and precise. Played in a mellow and deliberate manner, every pulse of music oozes with sexiness, calming the nerves with an unforetold sophistication. The atmosphere that is intricately sculpted, song by song, is admirable. Despite this, however, it is soon evident that the album is all style, and woefully little substance.
The Nicolas Winding Refn of albums, Blood has oodles of production and instrumental flourish, but nothing more concrete to back it up, rendering it emasculated and stripped of identity. Agreeable at best, the worst parts of soft pop music come to light over the course of 42 minutes. Music you could, without much thought, nod your head along to in moments of vacuous serenity, with little to no engagement of any critical faculties. The lack of emotive and powerful songs like ‘Open’ from Rhye’s debut also makes for a consistently plain, and disappointingly inoffensive album. The only exception to this rule is track nine, ‘Phoenix’. Embracing a groove, Rhye venture out of their comfort zone, creatively reworking funk motifs. Milosh chants, “Oh my god”, as the bassline takes on a life of its own.
Though the album never reaches the somewhat more lofty heights of the band’s debut, it offers a few decent songs sprinkled here and there, making the listening experience at least marginally pleasant. Almost ironically, Blood seems to be trying its best to emulate Woman, whereas it undeniably has the potential to forgo the clichés of its soft rock roots and be something more wild and free. Something with a mind of its own. With some sort of personality. Come on, Mike. Get it together. We know you can do better than that.
Artist: Rhye. Label: Loma Vista. Top Tracks: Phoenix; Count To Five; Taste. For Fans Of: Jessie Ware; Sade; Sampha. 42 minutes