Occasionally a record comes along that inexplicably captures your imagination. For whatever reason, you become captivated and can’t turn it off. It may not be the greatest album you’ve ever heard, and you certainly wouldn’t call it your favorite, but, as if some mysterious force is contained within the notes, it draws you in deeper each time you listen. Woman, the debut album from Rhye, has become that album for me.
Mike Milosh of Canada and Robin Hannibal of Denmark form the enigmatic, pop duo Rhye. The band appeared about a year ago with striking music videos (in which they do not appear) which left many wondering about the identity of the musicians. In large part, they have remained a bit of a mystery. Try searching Google for images of the group and you’ll notice it’s difficult to find unobstructed photos of their faces. This, of course, is all by design, and the duo is able to pull it off without it feeling gimmicky. The rational for, and the beauty in, remaining anonymous, so to speak, is focus the audience’s attention where it belongs; on the music.
When you listen to Woman, you begin to understand and appreciate their efforts to maintain a sense of obscurity. This album is budding with sensuality, but it manages to do so with sexually ambiguous and gender-neutral lyrics. Mike’s voice defines expectations and blurs the lines between what “masculine” and “feminine” should sound like. In fact, it’s striking how closely his voice echos Sada. The album is a blend of styles, taking 90’s R&B, easy listening and jazz and melding them together into silky smooth chill-music.
The beauty in this album is that Rhye’s design works perfectly, and you quickly realize that the men behind the curtain are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the music. It’s as if they’re standing behind you with their hands over you eyes whilst you listen. And as the melodies wrap around you, you become less aware of the hands over your eyes and allow yourself to become fully immersed in the listening experience. Rhye has created something remarkable with their debut album, Woman, and it is as mesmerizing and relaxing as it is provocative.
Woman was released yesterday, March 5, so go pick it up. In the meantime, check out the official video for “The Fall” below. Enjoy!