Critic’s Notebook: Rhye, Helado Negro, Young Thug

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

Rhye

When men try to sing like women, they often cinch their voices in falsetto. Michael Milosh, vocalist of Los Angeles duo Rhye, takes another route, frequently achieving androgyny with a breathiness foreign to most crooners carrying Y chromosomes.

His soft-focus phrasings stretch out comfortably in the space between Sade and Scritti Politti, making all nine R&B-ish songs on Rhye’s debut full-length, “Woman,” feel delicate and sweet. But the album’s keystone is the tune that first earned Rhye a swell of blog blabber last year, “Open,” an evergreen ballad that describes fresh love as the “gentle sting between us.” It still stings.

Helado Negro

As Helado Negro, Brooklyn singer-producer Roberto Lange knows how to turn the arid ones and zeros in his computer into damp dance music. His latest effort, “Invisible Life,” finds him gently toggling between Spanish and English behind the microphone, while his verdant beatscapes evoke digital humidity puddling in your headphones.

Stream “Invisible Life”

Young Thug

Yeah, the kid raps like he’s going through a particularly difficult puberty, but give Young Thug a chance. On his new mixtape, “1017 Thug,” the young Atlanta eccentric – and Gucci Mane acolyte – is yelping in defiance.

From Juelz Santana to Trinidad James, there’s a lineage of rappers that have made their names elbowing free from the constraints of rhythm and rhyme. Now we have a rapper tampering with tone, jumping octaves willy-nilly, occasionally bleating through Auto-Tune, as if daring technology to contain his weirdo croaks. With “Tabernacle,” he proves that the more bizarre the hook, the more power it asserts: “I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa!/Live from the tabernacle!” Can you hear his cult assembling?

Rhye performs at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on April 18. Helado Negro performs at the Black Cat on March 22.

Chris Richards became the Post's pop music critic in 2009. He has covered D.I.Y. house shows, White House concerts, go-go and Gaga.
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