Saturday, 9 March 2013

Album review: RHYE - Woman

Highlights: Open, The Fall, 3 Days

Two songs into this album, I almost began pulling out my hair thinking that the unfortunate moment finally came: the pop plague has knocked me off my feet, consumed the last streaks of my soul, and I will never be the same again. But – no. It gets somewhat less blinding afterwards, and I almost feel spared.

Rhye is a collaboration between Canada’s Mike Milosh and Denmark’s Robin Hannibal, both of whom are producers, vocalists and multi-instrumentalists. It shows; Woman is pop music steeped in thought, class and awe-inspiring professionalism.

And god those two first songs are brilliant. “Open” and “The Fall” are smooth, intricate pop ballads that are ecstatically sad lyrics-wise, and absolutely immaculate musically. Composed and produced to stone cold perfection, they are triumph of mood and slick subtlety. Call it R’n’B, call it Sophisti-Pop, I wouldn’t care.  

Sadly, the rest of the album doesn’t get anywhere near those heights. However, I wouldn’t want to make a wrong impression here: no missteps I can think of. The overall sound is sustained, up to the final instrumental, and at some point you do of course start coming round to the other songs and the glorious little details. The classy saxophone of “One Of Those Summer Days”, the funky, almost upbeat rhythm of “3 Days”, you can get lost in all of this album’s brilliant intricacies. It’s just that the songwriting quality gets a little trampled by style. Not much, mind you, and the understated orchestration provides an almost ideal post-break-up listen. Alone, in the dark, in headphones.

Brainy pop music. And by ‘pop’, I really do mean pop music. But brainy. And rather bloody good.


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