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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer

Panethiere Hozier Unheard Color

The enjoyment of ‘Unreal Unearth’ is extended in Hozier’s ‘Unheard EP‘

Hozier's new “Unheard EP” entends the themes of his last album with four new songs.

Hozier just dropped new music, and our ears are all the better for it. The new EP titled “Unheard” features four songs: “Too Sweet,” “Wildflower and Barley,” “Empire Now,” and “Fare Well.” Each song “very nearly could have made” his latest full length album “Unreal Unearth,” according to Hozier in a new video posted to his social media.

Those familiar with “Unreal Unearth” know that the songs in the album are split into the different circles of Hell outlined in Dante’s “Inferno.” These songs were close enough to release that they also fit into those thematic circles. “Too Sweet” would have fit into the circle of gluttony, “Wildflower and Barley” in limbo, “Empire Now” in violence and “Fare Well” would have been the ascent out of Hell.

“Too Sweet” twisted the idea of gluttony. Instead of wanting that which is too sweet in life, the speaker tells his lover that they are “too sweet,” or too good, for him. Instead, he prefers to indulge bitter black coffee, neat whiskey and staying up late at night. The song repeats a bass guitar riff, which reminded me of the prominence of bass in “De Selby (Part 2)” from “Unreal Unearth.” The bass on “De Selby (Part 2)” was part of why I loved that song, and I think it contributes a similar depth to "Too Sweet.”

“Wildflower and Barley” is a duet featuring Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Russell and is comparably lighter in feel than “Too Sweet.” Where “Too Sweet” is defined by a low bass, “Wildflower and Barley” shines through Russell’s sweet, soaring vocals. The laid-back nature of the song perfectly fits the lyrics. Hozier and Russell sing the speakers’ promises to embrace action, subtly indicating their current state of inactivity. The song is perfect for spring and would be perfect background music for the days everyone decides to soak up the good weather on the quads.

“Empire Now” is a more political song, with its references to empires and revolution. The refrain of the lyrics “one hundred years from the empire now” is most likely a reference to independence for the Republic of Ireland (2021 was the 100th anniversary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty). By focusing on freedom and the future instead of the past, Hozier instills a sense of optimism in the song. There is hope that the future will be better.

“Fare Well” is a song about indulging while you can and accepting the possibly negative results of that indulgence. The song cleverly includes percussion — using it to build movement then removing it to create a sense of free-floating. The arch of the song is an enjoyable switch of moods, and anyone who read my review of “I Wish You Would (Taylor’s Version)” knows how much I love good drum usage in a song. The other highlight of the song is the creative analogies to the different ways that he would not fare well. A favorite of mine is “a kitten-cozy-in-the-engine type of fare well.”

Anyone who liked “Unreal Unearth” will enjoy these four songs from “Unheard EP.” Because they were nearly released in the album, each of the songs from the EP clearly aligned with the musical and lyrical themes of the album. They also, however, each stand on their own merit and are enjoyable listens. Instead of locking these songs that nearly made the album away never to be heard, Hozier blessed us by releasing them. We are all truly better off for that fact.