Hozier’s Poetic Brilliance Shines Brighter Than Ever on “Unreal Earth”

Hozier in 2018
Hozier in concert in 2018. Photo by REX/Shutterstock (9933253be)

Over the course of the past decade, Hozier established himself as one of the most intriguing artists on the modern indie scene. The mix of his soulful voice and poetic lyricism carried him a long way, and his latest album Unreal Earth is another showcase of his brilliance.

It’s been a decade since Hozier broke into the scene with his soul-stirring smash hit “Take Me To Church”. Its chart-topping success was difficult to repeat for an artist who seemed more concerned with creating a body of work with an emotional and philosophical depth than recording radio hits, and Unreal Earth carried him in the same direction.

Hozier’s EP Eat Your Young served as an interlude for his third studio album, and introduced us to its first two singles “Eat Your Young” and “All Things End”. The entire album clocks at 62 minutes and features 16 tracks, but you never want it to stop because they offer a perfect balance between stripped-back tunes that Hozier is best known for and up-tempo folk-pop and indie-rock songs, which see him toying with new sounds.

Hozier wrote most of Unreal Earth during the COVID-19 pandemic and themed it around the idea of the nine circles of Hell from Dante’s Inferno. His poetic lyricism seeps through in every song, and its roots in classic literature are evident from the first two tracks “De Selby (Part 1/2)”, inspired by Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman.

Unreal Earth doesn’t lack piano ballads, but he also impressed us with several high-energy songs, starting with “De Selby (Part 2)”. His Brandi Carlile collaboration “Damage Gets Done” continues this trend, and so does Afrobeat-inspired “Anything But”.

Hozier managed to push his music to thrilling new spaces on Unreal Earth, giving us another gem in his discography. His vocals are stronger than ever, but the poetic lyrics are the album’s shining light, exploring a dark emotional world, without ever feeling too heavy.