October 16, 2012

I know Rhye’s identity, but I’m not talking. The reason for the anonymity isn’t mere self-conceit, it’s savvy. Once the faces get revealed, the game will get real. They’re slotted as soul, but you won’t conflate them with their Innovative Leisure labelmate, Nick Waterhouse. This is pop music, so commercially viable that the recordings from their forthcoming full-length debut reportedly sparked a major label bidding war.

Listening to “The Fall” it’s easy to understand the clamor. This is commercial music, but unlike most stuff made for the migraine masses, there’s an elegance and restraint. As the video infers, it contains the requisite melodrama, but it’s a bespoke and continental glide, not a crass American howl.

The prolific Jonah Bromwich reviewed the song for Pitchfork and noted that, “the bedroom-music nature of the track could provoke comparisons to the xx, but Rhye’s music is not particularly spare or somber. “The Fall” possesses full-blooded heat, evoking what would happen if Sade met a caffeinated Air, a sublime voice floating easily on a ballast of clever instrumental touches.”

Let’s fall back on the Sade references. I also hear the touches popularized by Miike Snow and Gotye in equal part. The difference is that this seems less desperate to make you love it. There’s a subtle, no-frills Scandinavian side that reminds you why Sweden has had this shit locked down since the days of John McCain’s favorite band. Rhye understand the notes that people want to hear, but wisely reveal only as much as they need to.

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