From their enigmatic moniker to their aversion to being photographed, electronic soul duo Rhye appear to have gone out of their way to remain as mysterious as possible ever since they first began uploading their material online in early 2012. So much so that even up until the eve of their debut album release, most believed that the seductive falsetto of frontman Mike Milosh was in fact that of a Sade-esque chanteuse.
It’s easy to see why such a mix-up occurred. Their first studio effort is titled Woman, features cover art of a female’s bare neck and shoulders and includes ten unashamedly romantic tracks which recall the “Sweetest Taboo” star at her most luxurious 80s peak. Meanwhile, the pair recently asked for their faces to be obscured for a New York Times profile and have so far yet to make an appearance in any of their videos.
However, despite the intrigue, Rhye aren’t exactly newcomers to the scene. A classically-trained cellist from the age of three, Milosh had released three albums of silky R&B and electronic beats under his surname (2004’s You Make Me Feel, 2006’s Meme, 2008’s iii). Danish-born Robin Hannibal, meanwhile, was formerly one half of Copenhagen indie-pop duo Quadron, had collaborated with superstar DJ Kaskade on his Fire & Ice LP and had formed several brilliantly-named side projects including Boom Clap Bachelors and Parallel Dance Ensemble.
But now that their secret is out, the camera-shy outfit’s appeal has only widened with critics clamouring over themselves to hail Woman as one of the first great records of 2013. The hype is more than justified. Having admitted an intense attraction to songs that are sad, the distinct melancholic streak running throughout Milosh’s serenades is perhaps inevitable.
But more surprising and indeed mightily impressive is the way his listless but devastating vocal is able to drift from cocktail bar jazz (“Shed Some Blood”) to ambient electronica (“One Of Those Summer Days”) to minimal finger-clicking R&B (“Major Minor Love”) with equal aplomb. Additionally, the slick disco-funk of “Hunger” and the gorgeously gentle house-pop of lead single “The Fall” prove that Rhye are just as compelling when they venture outside their mid-80s comfort zone.