Rhye: Woman (Polydor)

Having one’s voice compared to Sade would be a compliment for any female singer, however when this comparison is levelled at a male vocalist, the compliment becomes all the more intriguing.  Mousy and inconspicuous, Canadian singer, Mike Milosh does not look like a soul singer. Yet somehow his silky vocals provide the centrepiece to the year’s most elegantly refined album. The depth of Milosh’s soulful voice and the bare instrumentals, formed by Robin Hannibal, create a chilling intimacy in their subtle execution.

There are few albums that have managed to capture with such delicacy the all encompassing essence and simplicity of love. The ambiguity through which ‘Woman’ pulls this off, is quintessential to the album, as it enables these songs to transcend the boundaries of both genre and gender. With lines such as “Make love to me”, one could question whether Milosh has truly distanced himself from the exploitation of sex which he so desired. However ‘Woman’ masters this with clarity in the desperately honest lyrics that resonate throughout every song, offering an eloquent and poignant picture of love. 

From the first crisp notes of the violin in ‘Open’, this album creates a tenderness born out of long distance relationships and a very real longing to make love “one more time”. The playful beats behind Milosh's voice in ‘The Fall’ creates a unique and bold sound, that then effortlessly relaxes into tracks such as ‘Verse’, only to be picked up again with the light free falling of ‘3 Days’ and the unavoidably danceable ‘Hunger’. The seamless fluidity between each song creates a beautifully formed album that balances upbeat, rhythmic tones with smooth and wholesome ballads.  The strong lyrics are perfectly complimented by the delicacy with which they are delivered.  This album does not have a weak link, each song could sit alone with stunning success, but when placed together, they create this year’s best collaboration, flanking Darkside. 

 The true victory of this LP is the mere fact that an album about sex is one of the best releases of the year. It packs in all the emotion and sensation of a breakup record but channels the energy in to the human joys of making love. It showcases an in-depth intimacy that is communicated through polished, almost cinematic production. ‘Woman’ is a crack in the mould of romantic song-writing. It’s a record where the most personal feelings become communal and celebratory in absolutely effortless fashion.

Words: Jenny Chapman | Illustration: Peculiar Man

AuthorDuncan Harrison