Irish folk-soul artist Hozier’s new EP, Eat Your Young, may not be the festive, rowdy St. Patrick’s Day soundtrack listeners might want, but it promises something far beyond the spirit of this holiday.
Following the release of his single “Swan Upon Leda” last October, Eat Your Young gives fans and new listeners alike another reason to get excited about Hozier’s larger upcoming album, Unreal Unearth. The sounds of his newest EP are definitively unearthly, but they mask a deeper message that is certainly earthly and packed with real emotion.
Hozier has received both critical acclaim and backlash for featuring socially and politically conscious themes in his lyrics, and Eat Your Young proves that he’s not stopping anytime soon. Writing with care and a powerful poetic voice, Hozier has crafted songs that perfectly reflect the frantic emotion of living in today’s world.
Each of the three tracks touches on issues that are hard to tackle, while retaining Hozier’s trademark soulful and musically complex vocals. The title track, “Eat Your Young,” is both a haunting and satisfying start to the EP.
One immediate difference between these tracks and Hozier’s previous work is a heavier emphasis on bass, supplemented by electronic drums atypical of his previous folksy instrumentals. They pack a punch, especially in the first track, lending a heavier energy to an appropriately heavy song.
“Skinnin’ the children for a war drum / Puttin’ food on the table selling bombs and guns / It’s quicker and easier to eat your young,” Hozier sings repeatedly on “Eat Your Young.”
It is confusingly catchy for having such a harsh message. The song sounds as though it should be on the soundtrack for something like HBO’s Succession, cleverly disguising corruption in its catchiness.
“All Things End,” the second track, is the most soul-influenced of the three. The lyrics may seem a little bleak, but the song’s sound is the opposite. Featuring packed piano chords and a full choir joining in on the final chorus, it’s reminiscent of gospel music. You can’t help but feel hopeful after listening, despite heavy lyrics.
Hozier encourages listeners to carry on through a sometimes despairing world.
“We didn’t get it right, but love, we did our best,” he sings.
With the last track, “Through Me (The Flood),” Hozier delivers a song of deep loss and subsequent empowerment. Like many Irish or British artists, Hozier’s accent is usually lost in his singing, but “Through Me” showcases his Irish accent. His voice and lyrics emulate the rhythm of spoken-word poetry.
It is raw and personal, with the narrator trying to make sense of his smallness in the world among loss and silence. The song showcases Hozier’s impressive vocal range and depth, which speak more to the song’s message than its often hard-to-decipher lyrics do.
“At the long-term cliff edge of the world / Light and air find some new deepness there,” he sings.
It is unclear whether the narrator figures out his place by the end of the song, but it makes listeners want to play the track over and over to find out.
Eat Your Young is a powerful, promising sample of Hozier’s future. It grapples with issues like personal loss, identity crisis, and the emotional state of the world in a way that isn’t overwhelming for listeners. Hozier’s music has always been cathartic, but this EP achieves that in a more relatable and raw way than ever.