Reviews

Hozier “Unreal Unearth” Album Review

Unreal Unearth

Hozier

  • Genre: Alternative Folk
  • Date: 18 Aug, 2023
  • Content: Not-explicit
  • Track(s): 16
  • ℗ 2023 Rubyworks Limited, under assignment to Universal Music Operations Limited

Hozier &Quot;Unreal Unearth&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, May 27, 2024

The Irish musician Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, better known by his stage name Hozier, has recently been linked to the cottage-core TikTok craze. These TikToks feature what can only be described as “cosy fall vibes” in the form of background soft acoustic music, frequently “Would That I” from Hozier’s 2019 album “Wasteland, Baby!” Videos of autumnal foliage, images of hikers strolling through picturesque landscapes, or images of home furnishings typically conjure up images of a cabin in the woods.

Hozier’s third album, “Unreal Unearth,” opens in two parts, showcasing his versatility again. The album’s dreary ‘De Selby (Part 1)’ begins with a sparse acoustic setting and falsetto melodies before transitioning into funk-infused electro-pop on the surprisingly upbeat ‘De Selby (Part 2)’, creating an enthralling build-and-release. Although Hozier’s music has always covered a wide range of genres, it continues to show his diversity and flexibility.

Album Art

Hozier &Quot;Unreal Unearth&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, May 27, 2024
This Cover Image Released By Rubyworks Ltd./Columbia Records Shows &Ldquo;Unreal Unearth&Rdquo; By Hozier. (Rubyworks Ltd./Columbia Records Via Ap)

With the exception of his smiling lips revealing his teeth, which are holding a blooming flower, Hozier appears to be laid beneath the earth in the album art, which attempts to depict the album title. The beauty of life is more fully appreciated as the cycle of life is brought into focus (after all, one of his songs is “All Things End”).

Tracks And Features

With 16 songs and a wide range of genres, this album is hugely ambitious, as have been his previous ones. Making for a consistently engaging and rewarding listening experience demonstrates an artist’s proactive efforts to develop and broaden his body of work. From softer piano ballads like “Butchered Tongue” to brisk folk-pop like “Anything But” and fuzzy-guitar rocker “Francesca,” “Unreal Unearth” explores a range of musical genres. With a lush acoustic opening and gorgeous soft vocals against an orchestral backdrop, the two-part De Selby immediately grabs our attention. Most impressively, singing in Gaelic during the second half further broadens the sound.

Despite the album’s overall introspection and ambiguity, its shifting dynamics never seem to be in danger of derailing it. In one of Hozier’s heaviest songs to date, “Francesca” develops some of the more blues-based aspects of his earlier work. Once more, his vocals take centre stage, and even though it has been almost ten years since his debut, it is still challenging to get over the strength and range of his voice.

“Eat Your Young,” the album’s lead single, is one of the pop-merrier moments and was inspired by Dante’s Inferno, which appears to be a common theme in several of the songs. The lyrics, which speak of doomed lovers trying to flee hell, are haunting despite the song’s upbeat tempo. The juxtaposition of the dark lyrical content with the catchy melody creates a captivating listening experience. This combination of haunting lyrics and pop sensibility showcases the band’s ability to craft emotionally resonant music that remains accessible to a broad audience.

“Damage Gets Done” features American singer-songwriter Brandi Carlisle in a stunning duet; the two are in perfect harmony and a perfect match. This one is one of the most captivating songs—a departure from some of the other songs but still fitting in. Despite being relatively new to Hozier’s music, synths bring a welcome pulsing energy to the indie-rock song “Damage Gets Done,” featuring Brandi Carlile. Adding synths adds a refreshing and modern touch to Hozier’s signature indie-rock sound. Brandi Carlile’s powerful vocals complement Hozier’s unique tone, creating a dynamic and unforgettable musical collaboration.

“Sons of Nyx,” an almost entirely orchestral and instrumental song, reminds of Hozier’s work with Bear McCrary on God of War Ragnarök, another unexpected but well-executed direction. It will be interesting to see if he explores this theme further. Even though it is among his most beautiful creations, it still harbours a dark undercurrent. The haunting melodies and sweeping crescendos in “Sons of Nyx” evoke a sense of mystery and melancholy, showcasing Hozier’s versatility as an artist. This departure from his usual folk-infused sound demonstrates his willingness to experiment and push boundaries, leaving fans eager to witness the evolution of his musical style.

“Unknown,” which features a lavishly extended opening riff centred primarily on the guitar and vocals and building to a soaring climax, demonstrates Hozier’s skill as a guitarist. This captures the album’s overall sound, the skilful balance of light and dark, and the seamless transition between styles. Hozier’s ability to blend different musical elements effortlessly shines through in “Unknown,” showcasing his versatility as an artist. The intricate guitar work and powerful vocals create a captivating atmosphere that perfectly embodies the album’s dynamic range and beautiful soundscapes.

Another expansive album highlight and impressive closer is the soaring epic “First Light,” which layers an ominous choir of voices with quick guitar picking and dramatic strings beneath a slower melody. Combining these elements creates a captivating and immersive musical experience that builds tension and intensity throughout the song. “First Light” showcases the band’s ability to craft intricate compositions that transport listeners to another world, leaving them in awe of their musical prowess.

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 De Selby (Part 1) 3:39
2 De Selby (Part 2) 3:47
3 First Time 3:53
4 Francesca 4:30
5 I, Carrion (Icarian) 3:16
6 Eat Your Young 4:03
7 Damage Gets Done (feat. Brandi Carlile) 4:28
8 Who We Are 4:05
9 Son of Nyx 3:19
10 All Things End 3:36
11 To Someone From A Warm Climate (Uiscefhuaraithe) 4:00
12 Butchered Tongue 2:29
13 Anything But 3:45
14 Abstract (Psychopomp) 4:04
15 Unknown / Nth 4:40
16 First Light 4:52

Album Summary

The wait was well worth it because Unreal Unearth is a masterpiece from one of Ireland’s top musicians. It is an album brimming with grandeur, amplifying sounds alluded to in his earlier works, both more expansive but not devoid of quieter, more private moments and brimming with beauty remorse. It is the creation of a talented individual who is still growing as an artist. This album, which never entirely adheres to one genre, will reward repeated listens with its many layers and textures to ponder and get lost in. “Unreal Unearth” is a journey that ebbs and flows from beginning to end. Listeners learn to “unearth” new layers of the journey with each track, from loud to quiet to light.

The artist’s ability to seamlessly transition between different musical styles adds to the album’s allure, keeping listeners engaged and intrigued. Each “Unreal Unearth” track is carefully crafted with intricate melodies and thought-provoking lyrics, inviting listeners to explore the depths of their emotions. This album is a testament to the artist’s versatility and growth, leaving audiences eagerly anticipating what they will create next.

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