Album Review: Wasteland, Baby!

Album Review: Wasteland, Baby!

He’s back! After five years since his last album Hozier, he has released his newest full-length album titled Wasteland, Baby! Hozier played up the content by releasing four songs prior to the full album reveal. “Nina Cried Power”, “Almost”, “Movement”, “Shrike”, and “Dinner and Diatribes” were released as singles prior to the album release date. They picked up some traction, although some songs more than others with Barack Obama listing “Nina Cried Power” as one of his top tracks of 2018. That’s quite an honor. Hozier reminds us of the folk roots he came from with some of his strong passionate vocals peppered throughout the songs. If you have been a fan of Hozier in the past, I believe Wasteland, Baby! meets at a minimum the standard he set with his first album.Hozier_Embed

  1. “Nina Cried Power” (ft. Mavis Staples) – Hozier’s first song on the album is a strong activism piece centered around the Black Lives Matter movement. With the word ‘power’ being sung so emotionally by both Hozier and Mavis, it does nothing if not inspire action. By referencing Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Mavis Staples, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, and Patti Smith, Hozier is bringing to light some strong activists for all rights.
  2. “Almost (Sweet Music)” – This song brings the nostalgia of the first album. Hozier singing about music seems to be an astute combination for him.
  3. “Movement” – This song I felt was a bit out of his regular comfort zone being almost sexual(?). He said in an interview he wanted to write a song about dancing rather than a dance song. I never imagined he would write this type of song but I think it works for him. I honestly wasn’t a fan at first, but once it settled I appreciate the passion in his voice in this song.
  4. “No Plan” – This is a disco-esque song that seems to embody the inability to plan life and the plan of Earth itself. This is one of those songs where Hozier’s lyrical play really comes through.
  5. “Nobody” – A classic Hozier love-song. This country-style song reminds me of almost Creedence Clearwater Revival? I don’t know why; it just seems like something they wrote that he’s covering. It’s quite an energetic love song for him, much more so than “In a Week” and definitely one of my favorite songs on the album.
  6. “To Make Noise (Sing)” – I think Hozier plays well off of nostalgic feelings. This song should remind almost any listener of a time where they just sang a song they loved at the top of their lungs with no care in the world. I think it’s a feeling, or at least a memory, he’s trying to evoke again in everyone.
  7. “As it Was” – There’s a lot of emotion in here that plays off of the concept of losing one’s self. It seems like he pulled like a dark place to write this song and it feels more like what would fit exactly in his first album.
  8. “Shrike” – A shrike is a bird, in case you didn’t know. It really seems like Hozier is pulling strings of difficulties he’s encountered during the last 5 years. This one emulates the struggles of a failed relationship. I think it’s a raw version of his emotions, less clouded by his lyrical structures.
  9. “Talk” – This song is the ‘sinner’ song on the album. In an interview, Hozier said that the song is told from the perspective of an “unreliable narrator”. The lyrics are very sultry if you look at them. A bold move for Hozier.
  10. “Be” – Another play off of his activism, Hozier’s simplicity in “Be” highlights a push for universal love and its simplicity. A truly nice message and on theme with his activism undertone in this album.
  11. “Dinner and Diatribes” – Hozier tweeted earlier this year that the song was about “the crushing tedium of social obligation”. I think a lot of people can relate to the feeling of relief of leaving social obligations they had no interest in going to in the first place.
  12. “Would That I” – This is my favorite song on the album. I think the pure passion in the chorus makes it such a pure song and really stamps what Hozier is capable of.
  13. “Sunlight” – Another promo for love here. It’s really an uplifting song about the purity of love and how comforting and uplifting it can be. In an angelic type of way, it really is an optimistic look on the love people can share in couples or in general.
  14. “Wasteland, Baby!” – A culmination of all the songs on this album, “Wasteland, Baby!” is about falling in love enduring the worst-case scenarios. This could be applied again to intimacy between partners, but also the love we have for each other platonically. A wonderful note for Hozier to end the album on.

-Victoria Traxler

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