WomanAlbum | Rhye By Stewart Mason
Enigmatic electronic duo dips a toe in the mainstream
The debut album by publicity-shy transatlantic duo Rhye checks so many demographic boxes you'd think they were created in a lab. Triangulated between modern-day dream pop, indie R&B, and a healthy dose of the '80s soft rock that chillwave made fashionable again, Woman sounds pretty much exactly like a fantasy collaboration between The xx, Frank Ocean and late-era Everything But the Girl. (The last in large part because androgynous singer Michael Milosh often bears an uncanny vocal resemblance to Tracey Thorn's bedsit-disco murmur.) Mixing sleek, minimalist electronics with live horns, reeds and strings, the songs almost entirely follow a downtempo template; only "Hunger" comes close to breaking a sweat, and it barely rises above a trot. But it's Milosh's startlingly pretty voice that really grabs your attention. When the album ends -- with shocking suddenness -- in the midst of the wordless melisma of the title track, the only logical recourse is to start it again from the beginning. Cool and stylish enough to appeal to the hip crowd, but so melodically inviting that songs like "The Fall" would make sense next to an Adele ballad on the radio, Woman is the potential breakout hit of 2013.