On Rhye’s second studio album, writer and producer Mike Milosh treats listeners to sensual and smooth sounds — the perfect disguise for a breakup album.
Producers Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal formed Rhye in 2012 and released their first studio effort Woman a year later to a warm reception. But the good times didn’t last long as label issues forced Hannibal to leave the project. Following five years of touring and a tumultuous divorce, Milosh attempts to make a solo comeback with Blood, a dynamic R&B sound with a little more groove and variation which at times fail to give anything new.
Although Rhye is missing an original member, the new album isn’t lacking. In fact, Blood sounds fuller than previous releases with hints of groovy funk to make the listener move. It’s apparent from the start that Milosh’s vision as a solo artist is vastly different than as a member of a duo.
Opening with a steady synth harmonized by Milosh’s iconic siren voice on “Waste,” the album mainly concerns a recent divorce. The song uses a driving baseline, violin rhythms and melodies to bring out Milosh’s melancholic vocals as he reflects on how it felt to be with someone who was slipping away.
“Taste” and “Feel Your Weight” change up the vibe by adding a more dancy, driving beat while staying true to the sweet sexy themes Rhye is known for. “Count to Five” and “Phoenix” follow this same groovy formula but add funky accents not typically found in Rhye’s sound. Despite Rhye’s experimental instrumentation, Milosh’s vocals are still Rhye’s signature weapon. “Please” and “Stay Safe” remain true to Rhye’s roots, focusing on Milosh’s unique warm voice harmonizing with the accompanying synth and instrumentals.
These heartfelt moments are what Rhye does best. The strongest song from the album “Song For You” is the best example of this, using classic love song tropes along with Milosh’s vocal blending with horn and synth. All the pieces of the song melt together to create a complete composition that make it easy to dedicate to a significant other.
While Blood has its fair share of achievements, a common issue with a few songs is an abrupt ending. “Stay Safe” and “Blood Knows” suffer from this lack of closure, cutting off the song in a way that feels abrupt, creating a lack of fulfillment.
For fans of alternative R&B and slowed vibe music, Blood provides a satisfying take on the genre dominated by artists such as The xx but fails to produce a sound that can appeal to broader audiences. Putting the album on shuffle, it can be hard to differentiate some songs from each other.
Blood is bound to hit you right in the heart, speaking to the range of feelings felt when in love. With a few experiments to their sound led by a dedication to their alternative R&B roots, Rhye’s revival is sure to please longtime fans but fails to provide anything innovative and appealing for new listeners.