Wasteland, Baby!

Last Thursday, our favorite beautiful Irishman, Hozier, released his highly anticipated second album, Wasteland, Baby!

Source // Consequence of Sound

Now, Hozier had a lot to live up to with this next album. “Take Me to Church” is still, verifiably, his most popular song with 940 million streams on Spotify alone. And for good reason. He skyrocketed to fame with this single, and it became a beloved song of many with the occasional instance where Hozier gets asked to perform it at weddings. (An odd choice, in my opinion, but I guess it's your wedding...) And who could forget his performance at the 2014 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

Source // Bustle

When asked in an interview with Independent about that moment, Hozier said, “That was totally out of my comfort zone… It’s probably less appropriate at a wedding than it is at a fashion show.” As for the rest of his self-titled album, well, let’s just say he had us going back to church again and again. I still have “Work Song” on repeat sometimes.

Then, he disappeared for five years. After touring, he moved into a bungalow in Wicklow, Ireland and wrote the album without the added pressures of constantly being on the road. He says he was “given quite a long time to explore” and didn’t feel any pressure to make a second album right away. When I picture Hozier in those five years, this is how I imagine him, and it makes me smile:

Source // giphy.com

But now, Andrew Hozier-Byrne is back and ready to satisfy our need for more dark Irish love songs.

After teasing us with a little taste of what was to come with his Nina Cried Power EP in September, he kept us all waiting with baited breath for the full album to drop earlier this month. It was excruciating. Dropping a power ballad with legends Mavis Staples and Booker T. Jones, described as "a thank you note to the spirit of protest", was a powerful way to introduce us to this next phase.

Source // giphy.com

I won’t lie, the first listen through the new album, I didn’t immediately fall in love. And I still don’t absolutely love every single song like I do with Hozier. However, you can still hear hints of his self-titled album on Wasteland, Baby!, especially in the lyrical content. In “Shrike,” Hozier compares how he needs his lover just as a shrike needs its thorn. For context, a shrike is a bird native to North America. It looks like this:

Source // All About Birds

Cute bird, right? Well, the shrike is most famous for killing its prey with its beak and then impaling the prey on thorns. Super romantic stuff. What did we expect from a man who wrote a song about lying down in a field with his lover for so long that foxes come feast on their decomposing bodies? (One of my all time favorites from him, by the way.)

Another highlight of the album is “Dinner and Diatribes” for which there’s already a dark music video, starring Anya Taylor-Joy (Split, The Witch, Thoroughbreds) under the mind-control of Hozier at an unsettling dinner party. Directed by Anthony Byrne (Peaky Blinders), it’s full of matches being flicked and marshmallows being roasted. Confused? Let Hozier’s creepy smile convince you to take a look.

Source // giphy.com

Overall, Hozier is in no way suffering from a sophomore slump. "Take Me to Church" was always going to be a hard act to follow, but he said he felt no pressure to create another hit. Instead, Hozier delivers authenticity in exactly what you’d expect from him and he proves he’s still as full of dark forest fairy vibes as ever. His fans definitely seem to love it as today, Wasteland, Baby! made its debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200. It’s definitely worth listening to if you’re a fan of Hozier. If you’re not sold on the first time around, give it another go.

To wrap this up, a final highlight and good piece of advice from Hozier comes from the gospel-inspired tune, “To Noise Making (Sing)”. An upbeat ode to singing as loudly and as much as you can, no matter if you’re good or bad at it, Hozier embraces his own craft of music-making and the collective power of music. So take his advice and turn it up in your car.

“You don't have to sing it right

Who could call you wrong?

You put your emptiness to melody

Your awful heart to song

You don't have to sing it nice, but honey sing it strong

At best, you find a little remedy, at worst the world will sing along

So honey sing, and sing, and sing, and sing, and sing, and sing, and sing

Sing, and sing, and sing, and sing, and sing, sing.”

Find Wasteland, Baby! On Spotify, Apple Music, and wherever else you get your music!