Hozier celebrated his birthday by releasing “Eat Your Young.” The EP has whipped his fans up into a frenzy of anticipation for his new album set to come out late this summer. It features only three songs, but they all contain rich lyrics and layered sounds that require multiple listens for full absorption.
One week before its release, Hozier posted an Instagram Reel talking about the EP’s religious themes. “It’s sort of a taste of two of the nine circles [of hell],” he said.
The title track explores the third circle, gluttony, in relation to capitalism. Hozier opens by describing two lovers racing “to the table.” The scene’s tone swiftly transitions from playful to ravenous with parallels between a power imbalance in a relationship and how classism perpetuates uneven resource distribution. His ability to seamlessly switch between the two is a demonstration of his talent.
The beginning of the chorus describes vicious competition for survival with the lyrics “Get some / Pull up the ladder when the flood comes.” It proceeds to reference the blood-soaked profits of the military-industrial complex with the lines “Skinnin’ the children for a war drum / Puttin’ food on the table sellin’ bombs and guns.”
As I listened to “Eat Your Young,” the painting “Saturn Devouring His Son” by Francisco Goya came to mind. Both artists succeed at unnerving the audience with graphic portrayals of desperation. This visceral style may be off-putting to some, but many others like myself admire how it shines a light on the abuses dealt by those in power, from the Titan Cronus of ancient Greek mythology to today’s billionaires.
The second song of the EP, “All Things End,” centers on the sixth circle of hell: heresy. In Dante’s “Inferno,” heretics include people who claim the soul dies with the body. Hozier’s song describes a series of failed attempts at a relationship. In an interview with People Magazine he summarized the connection, saying, “It’s about a breakup, I suppose, which always seems like heresy at the time.”
The lovers in the song acknowledge they were doomed from the start, but that does not stop them from trying. They claim “knowing that everything will end” should not deter them from following through on plans that will make them temporarily happy.
Despite being about a breakup, the song is uplifting and void of resentment. The lines “I know we want this to go easy by being somebody’s fault / But we’ve gone long enough to know this isn’t what we want” take the high road, even though it is more difficult than painting one person as a villain. Even the purest love stories come to an end, but the fleeting joy is worth the heartache.
Hozier recounted working on the final track “Through Me (The Flood)” during the pandemic. It is a reflection on loss backed by a haunting arrangement. The singer reflects on how he has not only lost a loved one, but a home. His house is marked by “unheard footsteps at the doorway” and countless other gaping wounds that the dearly departed once filled.
My favorite lyrics come in the pre-chorus following the fourth verse, “I think of loss and I can only think of you / And I couldn’t measure it.” The percussion crests and sweeps me away on a wave of heartache. This song is a paragon of Hozier’s music, containing all the elements he is known for without sounding unoriginal. Listening to it feels like injecting his discography into my veins.
Hozier’s upcoming album, “Unreal Unearth,” still does not have a concrete release date. I’m not worried, though. I know relistening to this EP will sate my anticipation until the time comes.
Featured photo courtesy of @SIRIUSXM, Twitter