Blood is music to have sex to. Or at least it seems like that’s what Rhye has in mind. The album’s eleven tracks are luscious and carnal, buoyed by singer Milosh’s androgynous vocal, wailing strings, and elastic bass. Its pleasures are uniquely physical: songs tend to focus on body parts, shortness of breath, the taste of wine and blood. Most people will probably be able to get their kicks before the album’s 45 minutes are up, making it the perfect thing to put on Spotify before doing the deed. What’s less easy to see is how this music survives beyond the bedroom, where most of us expect more than pure lust from our playlists.
It’s not that Blood is bad, or that Rhye is making bad music. Nevertheless, what defines this album is its limits: Milosh’s predictable and safe vocals, repetitive musical motifs, uninventive and often trite lyrics that probably work better as late night texts or Tinder pickup lines. Songs come and go without much fanfare, to the point where it’s easy to miss one track ending and another beginning. Where Woman often survived on the strength of its hooks, Blood is lacking in that department: of the album’s eleven songs, only two or three leave much of an impression.
“Stay Safe,” one of the album’s highlights, sees Milosh longing for the pleasures of domesticity, with warm synths and stuttering bass accompanying his delicate vocal. Early single “Taste” also stands out, as the singer teases his lover while a hip thrusting bassline and funky guitars lurch in the background. Compare this to “Song For You,” another one of the album’s singles that plays as straight adult contemporary with cheesy lines like “you’re my favourite place to bleed” and “I feel your heart baby.” The guitar arpeggio is gentle and inoffensive, much as the song’s lyrics are toothless and flimsy. Milosh’s vocal is sensual and breathy, but even he can’t sell these lines.
One of the worst insults you can give a piece of music is that it’s forgettable, but no other term seems to do this album justice. There’s nothing wrong with depicting vanilla sex in song, but Rhye strips it of all its danger, eroticism, and fun. The songs here are unimaginative, sanitised, and metallic — everything sex shouldn’t be. Blood is a step down from Woman, which itself was an album suffering from a lack of personality. Milosh is a talented singer, and the music on the album, from a purely objective standpoint, is capable and consistent. There’s just something missing here, something that no amount of cozy basslines or soothing strings can cure.
Words by Max James Hill