Living with four other people means that, more often than not, any endeavor I undertake is somewhat communal, or even collaborative. This happened with Kali Uchis’s newest album “Red Moon in Venus” and my rewatch of “Ponyo,” so Hozier was definitely not going to be the exception. I first heard about the EP drop from a guest, and the listening party began with a housemate, who was then joined by another housemate, only to have both leave and yet another housemate listen for a moment. It was halfway through the three track EP, “Eat Your Young,” that one of my housemates immediately stated, when told I was writing a review, “Incredible, showstopping, spectacular — that’s my review.”
If Hozier’s astounding track record and the previous track-and-a-half weren’t assuring enough, that immediate response would have let me know I was in for a good cry — sorry, I mean time. Released March 17 (happy birthday, Hozier!), “Eat Your Young” is an EP that makes me want to beg for the full album to be put out into this world soon. Tragically for us all, Hozier stated his fourth album will be released in late summer, although it will be preceded both by some additional songs and our collective tears. The upcoming album, “Unreal Earth,” will be framed by the nine circles of hell depicted in Dante’s “Inferno,” which we get a preview of within this EP.
“Eat Your Young” starts off strong, with the titular song providing a different sound (a housemate referred to this as “a little more Coldplay,” if that helps), although the entire EP maintains the silkiness, beautiful lyrics and sheer amount of soul I often associate with a Hozier song. “Eat Your Young” is an untamed, sensual track with drama from string instruments providing a Bond girl energy that I can’t help but love. While it’s based on the third circle of hell, gluttony, we are immediately greeted by the oral sex imagery of “I’m starvin’, darlin’ / Let me put my lips to something / Let me wrap my teeth around the world.” Despite the insatiable nature, Hozier tames “Eat Your Young” with an extended (read: 45 second long) instrumental at the end that winds us down for the next track.
“All Things End” is a beat filled with romance in the bittersweet way Hozier is oh-so-capable of. Compared to the first song, it feels stripped down, the slow groove making the symphonic end more impactful. This is the song that made me cry — it holds the same imagery of Dante’s sixth circle, but holds itself as a gentle reminder of impermanence. In this song, Hozier tells us living is to love, and to love is to experience and go through pain, with “If there was anyone to ever get through this life / With their heart still intact, they didn’t do it right.” It took a couple of replays for me to cry, but, ever since, the song consistently makes me at least a little teary. The end of this song is a choir-sung chorus, but it ends with Hozier’s voice standing alone (with a hint of reverb) for the last two lines, aurally separating him in a very heretic-like fashion.
Hozier ends this EP with “Through Me (The Flood),” which continues the calmer energy for the first third or so of the beat. This track is filled with more elements reminiscent of church, from the organ in the background to the gospel-style vocal backing. Contemplative and filled with strong imagery, this song was written during the pandemic, and it shows. The song grapples with loss and persevering through grief. This masterfully balances between the previous two songs, creating a lovely send-off.
While Hozier clarifies that these three songs are not fully representative of the album, they provide a look at what’s to come, and I’m liking what I’m seeing (hearing). While not necessarily a new idea, the framing of an album as a kind of journey through the circles of hell is interesting and pairs well with Hozier’s discography. All in all, if you are one of the rare lesbians of Wellesley College that haven’t listened to it yet, I highly recommend this EP, especially if you want to cry about the inevitability and joy of heartbreak with track two.