A staunch Hozier fan, I was counting down the days on my calendar to this EP release, and my expectations have been met and exceeded by each of the three songs on the track list. Hozier’s first album release since ‘Wasteland, Baby!’ in 2019, the three songs on the Eat Your Young EP consist of ‘Eat Your Young’, ‘All Things End’, and ‘Through Me (The Flood)’.
Hozier has never been afraid of the uncanny, and the title track on the album, Eat Your Young, is no exception. His lyrical genius, paired with shameless referencing of literature and mythology, comes through in his description of ‘seven new ways that you can eat your young’, a reference to the 3rd Circle of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The song opens with Hozier’s effortless falsetto on a blues riff over the drums, before a string quartet joins the mix. Sung in the rich lower register of his voice, the darkly enchanting verses contrast with the upbeat choruses, where Hozier returns to singing in falsetto, in ghostly tones that sit right on the beat.
The second track, ‘All Things End’, has an equally haunting message, with slower lofi-esque drum beats accompanying Hozier’s warm vibrato. He perfectly executes the aching message of the chorus that ‘all things end’ and ‘all that we intend is scrawled in sand’, singing in his powerful chest voice. If you think that this song couldn’t get any better, you would only have to wait until the last chorus, where a key modulation leads to Hozier being joined by a gospel choir, to be proved wrong. It feels like the vocals are surrounding you in one big, enlightening tornado that I have still not recovered from.
‘Through Me (The Flood)’ is the final track on the EP. Beginning with reverbed, drifting vocalisations, you are lulled into a dream-like state before Hozier’s voice finally cuts through with a bewitching melody, reminiscent of Irish folk music in its use of modal keys. Similar to ‘All Things End’, this track features a powerfully sung chorus with lyrics that beautifully convey Hozier’s connection with humanity and loss, declaring that ‘the world, it flows through me’. Strings and backing vocals accompany Hozier’s despairing lyrics such as ‘I think of loss and I can only think of you’, weaving his passion throughout the song. Wild drums feature in the instrumental breaks and chorus, maintaining the driving beat through the chaos, right until the end where they cut out, and an ambient chord remains floating in the air.
The EP seems to carry a theme throughout, and compared to his other works reminds me mostly of songs such as Arsonists Lullaby, No Plan, Talk, and From Eden, as well as having a quality entirely new to themselves. The three songs have an irresistible dark quality to them, with some incredibly poignant lyrics, whilst also being interwoven with a feeling of hope. We are definitely hearing Hozier’s experience of the pandemic: loss and feelings of loneliness, but looking forwards to the light.