Rhye’s sophomore album Blood falls flat without Hannibal’s R&B expertise

On February 2, Rhye finally released his long awaited sophomore album, Blood, five years after releasing his notable debut, Woman.  Similar to Woman, Blood‘s cover art features Milosh’s newest musical muse after his recent separation from his wife, the inspiration for Woman‘s cover.  The release of Blood was highly anticipated not only from Rhye’s temporary hiatus, but also to see how Rhye’s sound would change due to the restructuring of the group.

Rhye was originally a partnership between Canadian singer Milosh and Danish instrumentalist Robin Hannibal who met in LA, and decided to combine forces.  The duo released Woman in March 2013 and, while it received incredible critical acclaim, Rhye was hesitant to put out new music soon after due to each member’s additional commitments.  Fans became worried as to whether Rhye would release any new music when it was announced that Robin Hannibal was leaving the band in 2017, just as the first single for the new album, “Taste,” was shared.  As a result, the new album, Blood, was primarily written, composed, and performed by Milosh.

Milosh’s heavy hand in the new album is evident with an overall slow, ambient instrumental background that blends with Milosh’s airy, sensual vocals.  While the preceding singles, “Summer Days” produced with Roosevelt and “Taste,” created expectations for a funky and fun but sexy album similar to Woman, the full album hardly reflects these expectations.

Instead, the album is a mixture of slow, overly produced tracks with a few stand out hits in-between.  Tracks such as “Waste,” “Please,” “Song For You,” “Softly,” and “Stay Safe” sound nearly identical.  While they vary in tempo, they have the same airy sound with highly emotional and sensual lyrics (look out for the constant double entendres).  The soft, slow synths simply combine with Milosh’s voice to create an ambient sound that lacks notable differences.  While definitely featuring a high production value, it almost comes across as overdone, creating a lack of distinction between tracks.

Despite some redundant sounds, Blood still features some notable tunes such as the single “Taste,” that garnered attention for the new album.  “Phoenix” is another standout track that slowly builds into a beautiful, electronic instrumental for the outro with Milosh’s voice blended amongst the conflicting sounds saying “this love has got a hold on me.”  “Sinful” is also beautiful, notable track, starting slow with the strum of an acoustic guitar, a simple hi-hat beat before Milosh’s layered vocals added to the mix.  The song slowly builds with new instruments, such as violin, layered in to lead to the song’s climax.  Despite the simplistic lyrics, this track stands out for the instrumentation where Milosh’s vocals both blend and rise above.

While Blood is filled with beautiful tracks that emphasize Milosh’s songwriting and vocal talents, the album unfortunately exemplifies sophomore slump when compared to Woman.  Without Robin Hannibal’s contributions, the instrumentation falls flat, losing the funky beats and R&B sound that made Woman so unique and contrasted Milosh’s silky sound so well.  Despite the hype generated from the release of “Taste,” few tracks on Blood match the unparalleled sound of Woman.