Rhye had me with one, breathy opening: “I’m a fool for that shake in your thighs.”
That was 2013. It’s now been five years since “Open” and Rhye’s debut album, Woman, came out, and I’m still a fool for this sound. Producer Robin Hannibal may be out of the picture, but Blood, the follow-up album from Rhye, aka Mike Milosh, remains right in the sighing, breathy lane of its predecessor—and amen for that.
But let’s get something out of the way from the jump: this notion that Milosh is just not that into Sade. From Noisey’s 2014 interview:
While we’re on the topic of loving music, let’s talk about the comparisons that have been made between your voice and Sade. Other artists, including Jessie Ware, have also shared that comparison.
I didn’t think about it, but my entire career people have brought it up, even when I was singing in tones that were more affected and electronic. People thought I was a woman. I’m not. I just have an airy tone to my voice. That’s how I sing. I’m not a big Sade fan. I have nothing against her. I was never into Sade, so it’s funny that everyone thinks I sound like Sade.
What?! Just own it, man. You can’t tell me for one fucking second that Milosh’s top-played Spotify track isn’t “Bullet Proof Soul.” Just get outta here. That’s about as believable as if I said I knew the singer behind Rhye was a man back when I was playing “Open” on repeat for months in 2013.
Look, I absolutely love that Sade is my first thought when Blood’s second track, “Taste,” begins. Please tell me how to not be tempted to queue up Love Deluxe after listening to this album—please. With songs like “Count to Five” and “Song For You” back-to-back, how do you not follow that by blasting “I Couldn’t Love You More” and “Like a Tattoo”? I’ll likely never get the answers, but I am deeply relieved that Jessie Ware and I are on the same page.
My Sade fandom, and Milosh’s supposed lack thereof, aside, Blood is exactly what I want from a Rhye album. The soft, sensuous feel throughout never gets to be too much, or too muted, either. Standout tracks like “Stay Safe” bring me back to that initial dizzy rush I felt with first listens of “Open”—something about the way he goes, “Mmmm,” I suppose. The whole album feels like the stirrings of a teenage crush; listen to “Phoenix” and try to deny it (“I thought you’d love me till I’m wrong/Oh my God, mmmm”)!
It’s got a hold on me, that’s for sure.
I recently read this essay by Zadie Smith called “Joy.” In it, she describes how “wild romantic crushes...do something ecstatic to our brains.” She might have been talking about what Rhye does to me. It’s not all that deep—after all, I’m probably always gonna go back to my true love, Sade, after some time with Milosh—but it’ll never be a waste of time. Blood is pure, easy pleasure.