Rhye’s debut “Woman” blurs gender lines

Justin M. McGee, Assistant editor

Released on March 4, “Woman,” Rhye’s debut album, is sexy, smart pop-rock.

Together, Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal are the band Rhye, and with “Woman,” the duo deliver 10 tracks that absolutely ooze sexuality. Every track features falsetto vocal tracks that completely erase the line between what most people consider “male” voices and “female” voices. In addition, the lyrics celebrate carnal love, but it is never made explicitly clear what kind of love: heterosexual or homosexual. Furthermore, without making any distinction, “Woman” breaks down the need for a clear sexuality; these songs embrace (and embody) intimacy. The androgyny and mystery behind these tracks makes the album extreme accessible.

Every track on “Woman” uses the first-person pronoun “I” and the second-person pronoun “you” heavily, making these songs intimately personal.

The album opens with the track “Open.” The two opening lines of this song reach out for the audience: “I’m a fool for that shake in your thighs / I’m a fool for that sound in your sighs,” and those two lines set the tone for the rest of the album. Musically, the song features a stripped down arrangement and relies heavily on the soaring vocal melody, which makes the sexual overtones even more apparent.

The second track, “The Fall,” opens with even more overt sexuality: “Ohhhh, make love to me / One more time, before you go away / Why can’t you stay?” The arrangement is a little more cluttered on this track, but the vocals are at the helm, leading the direction.

“Shed Some Blood,” the fifth track, is a musically spare tune. A tasteful funk guitar riff accentuates every measure and keeps the song moving forward.

“3 Days,” the track immediately following “Shed Some Blood,” is a pop song straight out of the 80s. Its up-tempo rhythm and major key tonality hides the dark, and perhaps disturbing, lyrics: “Stealing kisses in those misses within beats / Stealing kisses in those bloody sheets, / I’m killing you… I’m killing you.”

The album’s ninth track, “Hunger,” is another up-tempo cut that seems to distract from some disturbing imagery in the lyrics: “I’ll show my teeth, pull the sword from the sheath / Started to drool down the side of your face / I thought we were made from love / Now we are eating our own rind.”

The title track from Rhye’s debut album is saved for the tenth and final track. The song is complicated and seamless, and the lyrics take a backseat to its overlapping musical arrangement. The vocal track repeats one word for the entirety of the track: “Woman.”

Rhye’s “Woman” is a 36 minute tour de force. Packaging so many catchy melody lines and grooving rhythms into these tightly wound tracks takes true musicianship, the likes not seen in pop music in quite some time.

Through their sparse and stripped down tracks, Rhye proves the space between their notes is just as important as the space their notes occupy.