Our Take: Minimalist Production & Sexual Intimacy in Rhye’s ‘Blood’

Blood - Rhye

Our Rating

With ‘Blood,’ Rhye has designed an album that delicately outlines the human experience with love; it’s an audible paradise constructed to calm, awaken, and daydream.
RIYL: Wet, Moses Sumney, Charlotte Day Wilson

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Rhye has never been focused on who they are; they intentionally keep a low profile so the focus remains on the music. In an interview with DIY magazine, Rhye stressed, “I don’t know if it even matters who I am. It should be about the music.” Blood appears as Rhye’s second full-length release, and the sequel to 2013’s iconic Woman. In an effort to honor Rhye’s mission, we will continue on focusing solely on the modern masterpiece Blood (released 2/2/2018 via Loma Vista Recordings).

Clear, no-frills lyrics keep us grounded throughout the album even when our mind begins to wander among speckles of electronic stars and violin tsunami symphonies. It’s an audible paradise designed to calm, awaken, and daydream. You can taste the soul and the R&B the way a hint of spice tickles your palate during a complex meal – it’d be lost without it, but dares not to call for the spotlight.

Listen: Blood – Rhye

Blood opens with “Waste,” the fluid first chapter to an album riddled with heartbreak, isolation, lust, intimacy, and transformation. Reflection permeates as each line unfolds more gracefully than the last. We land on a realization and a call towards a love. “Waste” slows us down to build us up.

Blood - Rhye

Blood – Rhye

“Taste” and “Feel Your Weight” bring in funky tendencies and remind us that Rhye soundtracks more than our slow moments.  “Taste” electrifies with its flute-sounding flutters and rhythmic electro-drum beats. It’s my favorite track on the album for how it poetically paints lust and sexuality. The physicality of love shouldn’t be restricted to objectification, booty shaking, or 3-6-9; it serves as an important pillar of any relationship.

You’re not awake, you’re not alone
I’m calling off that fragile case
Half way
Are you dancing with your eyes closed?
It’s okay, it’s me, babe
One more time for my taste
Taste,” Rhye

Rhye croons about sensuality in a way that doesn’t feel corny, misogynist, or out of place by tying together sexuality and intimacy. His lyrics are playful: “Are you dancing with your eyes closed?” You can hear him smile, pause, and lean in for the kiss after this simple question. He sings about feeling her “love” and”faith” as if the emotions are palpable, but can’t they be? A pull in close can send shivers down your spine the same way words can stir chaos inside your stomach.

“Feel Your Weight” continues the intimacy vein and our blood pulses with the jazzy bass line until we reach “Please,” a track soulful and heavy enough to stop a train. “Please” drips with desperation to comfort a loved one and mend the rift between them. Rhye begs, “Oh, baby please” over and over which perpetuates the devastating feeling of having nothing else to say.

“Count to Five” pulls inspiration from it’s predecessor “Taste” with a sassy bass riff and fiery lyrics. We sense that all has been forgiven after “Please” and the lovers have not only rekindled their passion – they ignited it. With “Song for You,” “Blood Knows,” and “Stay Safe” we hear about fear, pain, and how a relationship ebbs and flows quickly. “Stay Safe” is spending a rainy day in bed with coffee and warmth from another body. It’s when you aren’t certain of where an interaction will take you, but for the day you’ll let it unravel mindlessly. You don’t let anything take hold until the quickness of “Phoenix” fades its way in.

You wanna lay low
You wanna stay safe
Let’s make a home, mmm
Stay Safe,” Rhye

“Phoenix” is our last time to dance with Rhye before the cool down period of “Softly” and “Sinful.” The energetic melody grips you with shakes, claps, heavy bass, and a familiar drum line. Rhye hums about a love that’s “got a hold on me” as desire breathes an audible life through the melody of “Phoenix.”

Rhye © 2013, courtesy of the artist

Rhye © 2013, courtesy of the artist

I follow this album track by track searching for the common threads between transitions, lyrics, and production. Order establishes comfort and safety which instinctively humans crave. As the end nears, I realize the order of feelings and realizations don’t exist along a sensible timeline; emotions never evolve in a planned order. Rhye feels devastation before lust and gentle intimacy after fear. It all happens so fast – but so do most relationships.

Undeniably, Rhye designed an album that delicately outlines the human experience with love. The melodies soothingly echo within your ears and the words transport you to personal memories. The work opens with a well-laid out plan that reality foils by the conclusion. Minimalist production elements propel Blood forward, but unfortunately emotive redundancy holds it back. Overall, Blood transforms cacophony into calmness one silky ballad at a time.

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Blood - Rhye

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The Breakdown

Baylee is an aspiring music journalist who currently contributes to Atwood Magazine, EARMILK, and the I Love Memphis Blog. A native (and proud) Memphian, she spends most of her time waiting for the next Bonnaroo, quoting School of Rock, and late night ordering Domino's cheesy bread. Follow me on Twitter for comments on the juiciest releases, climate change, and general revelry.