top of page

Hozier’s New EP Shouldn’t Go Unheard

By Avree Noelle Linne | 27 March, 2024

Hozier via Rolling Stone Magazine

Following the release of his third studio album Unreal Unearth in August of 2023, Hozier has come back with his fifth EP on March 22nd, 2024. Unreal Unearth was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, with the tracks hinting at Dante’s trip through the Circles of Hell. Aptly titled Unheard, the new EP has four “songs that might’ve made it to the circles of gluttony, limbo, violence and the outward ‘ascent’ respectively but could not for different reasons”, according to Hozier in his Instagram post.

The first track, “Too Sweet”, was given a teaser ahead of the album. The internet immediately went crazy attempting to pick apart what the lyrics meant, but now it is clear that it depicts the gluttony referenced in Hozier’s Instagram post. Set to the tune of a funky bassline, the singer describes his doomed relationship with his partner who is starkly different from him. His partner follows the societal standards of living, such as waking up early and not falling for gluttonous temptations. The singer, on the other hand, admits his faults and how his lifestyle isn’t sustainable claiming, “who wants to live forever babe?” He not only recognizes their differences, he questions the sincerity of his partner’s lifestyle choices. The chorus presents a brilliant metaphor with the lines, “I take my whiskey neat, my coffee black and my bed at three.” Not only is he explaining how different he is from his partner, he is describing how bitter he is towards society. He can’t accept that his partner could genuinely stave off their vices, and he would rather live this bitter life that feels sincere to him than be fake like he believes his partner is. This is the perfect track to start off the album, as it is exactly what fans love about Hozier; doomed relationships described with metaphoric prowess and artfully sultry musicality.  

Wildflower and Barley” is an eerie yet comforting track featuring Allison Russell. This track is constructed incredibly well, beginning with Hozier’s raw voice backed simply by his guitar. Slowly, the bass comes in with Russell’s sweet voice before adding the piano. Suddenly, the track swells with the drums, and Russell begins haunting vocalizations and stunning harmonies. The track is a dance between the two voices, with Hozier providing a stable melody allowing Russell to add dimension to the track. Neither overshadows the other, coming together towards the end of the song the way it began; with the simplicity of Russell, Hozier, and his guitar.

Empire Now” delves into an incredibly dark and angry place. As a proud Irishman, Hozier is known for speaking about the historic plight of his people, often having songs devoted to discussing these struggles in each release. Playing with the phrase “the sun never sets on the British Empire'' is the core of this song, with Hozier singing “sun comin’ up on a dream come around” and “sun comin’ up on a world that’s easy now”. The power in his voice backed by the heavy bass will shake your soul. It shows the power of the oppressed who once might have been the underdog, now able to defeat and live in a world without their oppressors. Yet, while this might seem like a song of hope and strength, it still holds an incredibly heavy tone. Hozier’s continued dedication to talking about social issues gives the context that this is still a protest song, and that we are not done with the work needed. With the lines, “If it falls, I would hold on for all it's worth / The future's so bright it's burnin'”, it is clear that Hozier is speaking to how there are empires still in the world that haven’t yet fallen, and it is necessary that people keep their burning passion in order to achieve a better world.

Fare Well” is a dichotomous track balancing the push and pull of the instrumental and the heaviness of the lyrics. The use of the phrase “fare well” in the lyrics describes one’s ability to adapt to a situation, and is also a play on “farewell” used as a parting greeting. “A kitten-cosy-in-the-engine type of wouldn't fare well / A dog-deep-into-the-chocolate kind of wouldn't fare well.” Not only would the subject literally not fare well in these situations, but they are likely to pass away, and yet the term “wouldn’t fare well” makes light of the situation. The slow tempo and roundedness of the vocalizations feel numb to the pain. The dramatic irony of the audience knowing the fate of these situations without the singer acknowledging how horrifying they are is also paralleled in the way the singer describes their own situation. He sings, “I'll take any high / Any glazin' of the eyes”. The beat picks up and you can tell how happy the singer is for a slight moment, before drawing back into a slow swaying melody while he again sings about how he wouldn’t fare well. The listener can feel and hear how deep the sorrow runs for the singer, and how “Any solitary pleasure that was sorrow in disguise”. 

I am always waiting with baited breath for any new music from Hozier, knowing it will lead me through an emotional rollercoaster of love and strife. He has a way of being able to make me feel to the fullest extent. While these songs were unable to make it on the last studio album, I am so glad Hozier was able to find a way to share them with us. Make sure to listen to the album here.


bottom of page