The art of subtlety is a tricky beast to master. In modern pop music, the emphasis in many cases seems to dictate 'be big or go home', using all that an artist can in their sonic arsenal to get their songwriting points across. While there has been the odd notable exception of more sparse, considered pop music permeating the mainstream, the thoughtful advert-ready tones of The xx spring to mind, there is still a definite gap in the market for honest heartfelt pop providing a softening antidote to all the pumping adrenaline and overtness elsewhere.

Rhye then are a rather interesting proposition. A project previously shrouded in ambiguity, with many people believing lead vocalist Mike Milosh to in fact be a woman when album tracks 'Open' and 'The Fall' surfaced. It's an easy mistake to make though, Mike's whispery tones and touches of Sadé reminiscent soulfulness does sound plausibly feminine with its sheer delicacy, and is the key ingredient in many ways as to why Woman is such a beguiling album from the get go.

Beginning track 'Open', the first song Rhye released online is a delicate and sophisticated opener. Starting with sweeping strings and restrained bursts of Saxophone, it's incredibly powerful in its musical understatement, particularly when combined with the strained hopelessness behind the lyrics; "I'm a fool for the sound in your songs" Milosh admits self-defeatistly and repeatedly. Equally alluring and classy is 'The Fall', with the equally endearing and crucially memorable vocal hook "don't run away my dear, don't slip away my dear." The track sounds so pained and thoughtful which is impressive given the soft delivery of the lyrics and the use of the piano, which rather aptly, falls through the track.

The variety on the record too is understated, stylistically there are elements of soul, funk and even R&B present, yet Woman still sounds cohesive and thematically strung together. 'Verse' introduces a more electronic slant to Rhye, as the duo yet again embrace musical minimalism in a way nothing short of haunting. The track's message "ain't got a second to waste" contrasting with the slow instrumentation. 'Shed Some Blood' meanwhile sounds like an incredibly pensive and restrained D'Angelo number, with sparing guitar plucks and doubtful reflective lyrics pondering the wrongs of a relationship; "Sitting in your space, asking myself why?" It's obvious with tracks like this, that Rhye revel in the poetic and pour their souls into their music, with the vocals at times sounding so lost in emotion they mumble and stutter, as if it's hard to confess in song the feelings they want to convey.

The album's true highlight comes with the majestic '3 Days', opening with a flurry of harp the track's funkier disposition is infectious. This combined with brilliant metaphors about sinful interactions with a lover such as the poetic "I'm famished so I'll eat your minerals, like a rabid beast at a foolish feast," is jaw-droppingly well pulled off.

At times it's easy to forget that this is Rhye's debut album, which is a testament to just how beautiful and perfectly executed these songs are. Woman might not contain the strongest or catchiest pop you'll hear this year, but it is certainly amongst the most affecting, touching and honest.