Hozier: A Comparative Album Review

Album Review by Claire Denson

Whenever there’s a new indie blues rock artist on the rise, he’s bound to gain the attention of The Black Keys cult following. We saw this with the Arctic Monkeys’ release of their most recent and more bluesy album, AM, after nearly a decade of being strictly a rock band. This time, it’s Andrew Hozier-Byrne, the front of the one-man band Hozier, who recently released his debut self-titled album, Hozier. His musical and lyrical talent have us all wondering: who is this guy? He’s unlike any single musician out there; rather, his style is comparable to that of multiple artists. For one, he’s kind of like Sam Smith, except he’s straight, Irish, and hot.

Just how Sam Smith released ‘Stay With Me’ months before he released the rest of the album, Hozier released his debut single ‘Take Me To Church’ a year before the release of his full album. Since then, the song has been climbing the indie music charts in the UK (well, Ireland, but let’s be honest here… we all secretly think of Ireland as part of the UK). The song reached #2 on αCharts’ ‘Ireland Singles Top 100’ four weeks after its release, for four weeks in a row- and the US is just beginning to recognize the song’s brilliance. Sure, it’s a catchy tune sung by the voice of personified sex. However, it also carries a political message: the lyrics take knowing someone in the biblical sense literally, using church as a metaphor for homosexual sex. In the video, two lovers face the cruelty of homophobia, ending with a gay lynching. Watch the video below- it’s worth the whole four minutes.

Nearly every track on the rest of Hozier’s album is just as noteworthy. From his Take Me To Church EP released in 2013, ‘Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene’ contains the same catchy flow as the verses in Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep.’ Meanwhile, ‘Cherry Wine’ brings out similar feelings of sweet love and sleepiness as a 2004 Iron & Wine track. Both its message and melody are reminiscent of Jack Johnson’s ‘Do You Remember.’

Of Hozier’s newly-released songs, his track ‘In a Week’ is about lovers dying and decomposing together. It’s haunting, yet captivating. While it’s an obscure – albeit creepy – love song, it’s beautiful nonetheless. Bonus points for originality.

In contrast, his track ‘Work Song’ opens like a Banks song. As the track progresses, the soul in both his voice and his lyrics becomes palpable, as he sings “I’m so full of love I could barely eat.” In one of his sexiest tracks, ‘To Be Alone,’ his vocals flow with the guitar riff, giving you just enough to leave you wanting more. It’s like foreplay.

One of his songs, ‘It Will Come Back,’ has the same bad-ass western vibe as Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’ And the constant animal imagery adds an element of danger as he compares himself to a beast, calling himself an ‘it’ throughout and singing, “Honey, don’t feed it – it will come back.” This track provides a wonderful juxtaposition against his romantic songs, while remaining in the general theme of lust and love.

It takes two decades of experience to create an album as eclectic yet complete as Hozier. Throughout the record, not only does Hozier exhibit a variety of sounds, but he does so with the skill of an artist who’s spent a career focusing on only one. The album has a satisfying mixture of soft and lovely, bluesy and soulful, and catchy without being poppy, all the while remaining political- in short, this guy rocks.

Take Me To Church music video:

 

Hozier Full Stream:

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