By Thomas Johnson, January 19 2018 —
Woman, Rhye’s first album, begins with “Open,” a disarming and stunning single that piqued the collective interest of online music communities with its 2013 release. News that the breathy, sensuous voice behind the mysterious project belonged to Toronto’s Mike Milosh sent the internet into a frenzy. Milosh’s falsetto is so superb that it renders others obsolete. It anchored Woman’s quiet storm and balanced the subtle productions that were only there to highlight the fragility in his voice and lyrics. It’s a stark record that’s still as vulnerable and soothing as it was when it came out almost five years ago.
But while Woman’s sensuality is akin to the draw of a warm fireplace or old black-and-white movies, Rhye’s sophomore effort, Blood, finds itself closer to an intimate nightclub booth. Maybe because Woman ached at the space between love, it’s appropriate that Blood would seem determined to close in on the recipient of Milosh’s affection. Despite its tone, a cloud of frigidity hangs over Rhye’s debut — the songs are teases, ideas and visions of romance unrequited and incredulous. The departure of co-conspirator Robin Hannibal seems to have unlocked the nocturnal in Milosh, who on his own has crafted a kind of bedroom disco hinted at on Woman standout “3 Days.”
Blood is an album as much about the physical act of love as the theory of it. The record begins on a spaced-out dour note with “Waste,” but quickly invites you in with the club-ready “Taste.” Towards the end, “Phoenix” grows to the album’s funky climax just to be undercut by “Softly,” the penultimate cut and Blood’s slowest smoulder. Milosh ribbon-dances with his voice, gliding around the bass and keys with a decidedly feminine allure. Negative space is filled with tiny flourishes, such as his penchant for throwing a casual dose of bounce to cap off songs or his inability to resist a jazzy metre.
Blood is very much a blanket record — one you could find yourself on the couch bundled in. It’s red-wine music. Milosh’s voice is as warm and appealing as a bottle of malbec and would pair well with a scented candle or burning incense. For contrast, Post Malone would be a bottle of Baby Duck someone had opened the previous night to mix with cranberry juice and forgot to re-cork.
Though the year is still young, Blood succeeds not only as an enhancement of Woman’s beguile, but as what will remain one of the most spellbinding albums of 2018.
Blood is available Feb. 2, 2018 through Last Gang Records. Preview the single “Taste” below.