For their much-anticipated new album, RHYE return with BLOOD; a deeply personal record of hope and experience.
“We’ve spent the last few years on the road translating the Woman album from a studio project in to a full live experience, “explains says the group’s frontman Milosh. “With BLOOD it’s been the opposite process; the music and sounds were really born out of the live environment and are built for performance.”
The distance from blog hype to road warriors was an unexpected evolution. RHYE first surfaced in 2013 with the critically exalted debut album Woman. Under the cover of booming piano, analog synths, natural percussion, and heavenly vocals, the group quickly and quietly became a phenomenon garnering acclaim from Rolling Stone, Spin, and Pitchfork who dubbed it “Best New Album.” Milosh, originally planning only a small handful of live performances to support the album, gradually decided to give in to the demand and hit the road. Sold out theaters around the globe, standout festival sets at Coachella, Pitchfork, and a storied concert in Denmark accompanied by a 49-piece all-girls choir all followed. Songs originally conceived in the studio, were re-imagined by the live band and shifted, mutated and became entirely new creations.
As the band began writing in 2016, this expansive live show indelibly impacted what would become their follow up album. Though the creation process differs between albums, the emotion infusing the music remains central. Ever since debut single “Open” announced the arrival of the group, Milosh has positioned himself as an artist firmly in the songs-of-experience school of writing. “I believe, very wholeheartedly, that I can’t write a song if it didn’t happen to me in real life,” he says of an emotional honesty that often leaves him choked up and teary-eyed during the delivery of his vocals. “And that can be positive or negative – there’s a whole gamut of feelings on this record. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable in front of an audience night after night. I use the same courage on every song on this record.”
If Woman served as an ethereal, romantic serenade, BLOOD is a cathartic, purgative response to what happens when a relationship dissolves. It’s a collection of songs about the transformation that arrives in the aftermath of one relationship ending and another beginning. In picking yourself up and finding joy again.
“There’s a lot of summoning throughout the record,” Milosh describes. “A new experience, a new life and a feeling of stepping into that life. ‘Waste,’ the opening song, is about the past. The songs that follow are summoning something new for the future.”
The breakdown of personal relationships wasn’t the only change impacting BLOOD’s creation, original collaborator, Danish producer Robin Hannibal, left the project shortly before the release of Woman, opting not to tour with the group and never performing a show with the band. Milosh wrote through this personal and professional transition period and, when it was time to record again, turned to his current set of collaborators to capture the looser, more organic sound of the current RHYE live show on BLOOD.
The first hint we got of something new was Please, the organic, acoustic song which served as a signpost towards the sonic sensibility of the record when released in July.
“It isn’t overly complex,” Milosh explains. “Things aren’t as quantized or controlled. It’s not as rigid. The human intimacy had to come through the actual instrumentation this time around. We chose a sonic palette made up of familiar elements…things we automatically understand—piano, cello, bass lines, simple beats, and clear, concise vocals. The songs are about the familiarity.”
You can hear it in upcoming single, Count to Five, a surprisingly, warm slice of subdued funk, as well as the King Henry collaboration Taste, released back in October. There’s a real, childlike innocence to the clarinets and a certain joy in the moving-forward, not-being-stuck-in-the-past message. “It’s good to grieve for things,” Milosh says, of the mellow, grooving cut. “It’s good to recognize you went through some hard things. But you’ve got to move forward. Embrace the beauty that life allows.”
From the sexually charged buzz of “Phoenix” to the aural temptation of “Sinful,” the whole album follows the same template: no programmed drums, everything played live, with very few instances of production trickery or editing. It’s physical sounding; quietly intense; earthy, even. More than that though, it’s a human record, of human emotion, that stands out at a time when music feels increasingly synthetic. No wonder he called it BLOOD – this is music to sustain you.
BLOOD is released in early 2018.