Review: Wasteland, Baby! embraces the end

The album cover of Wasteland, Baby!

The album cover of Wasteland, Baby!

Amelia Foster, A&E Editor

I don’t think anyone could make an album about love during the apocalypse as well as Hozier. Haunting and beautiful, Wasteland, Baby! is one of a kind. Hozier’s sophomore album explores themes of anxiety about impending doom, strange love and acceptance in the face of the end.

I knew that “No Plan” would be my favorite song on the album the second it started playing. Initially the sound is light with gentle guitar, then intensifies with heavy drums and bass as Hozier begins to croon. “No Plan” is a song about how the world is going to end and we’re all going to die anyway, so might as well enjoy life while we’re here. I never thought I’d be this in love with a song about existentialism, but here we are.

“Shrike” was released with Hozier’s Nina Cried Power EP back in September, and I have spent many nights since then just laying on the carpet and soaking in the song. “Shrike” is an absolutely gorgeous song, both lyric and sound-wise. At first glance it just sounds like any old love song, but when you listen you realize the song revolves around him comparing his lover to a thorn that he–the shrike–impales his dead prey on. Fun. “Shrike” is a slightly sinister song that pulls from Irish folk music and would be fitting in both a horror movie and an indie rom-com.

Hozier’s musical roots shine through in “Be,” a song that combines a gospel sound with heavy rock. “Be” is about how useless it is to worry about the end when we can’t do anything to stop it, so why do anything but exist. This song is filled to the brim with Biblical allusions–fitting for the man who sung the hit “Take Me To Church” back in 2014–listing all the ways that the apocalypse might occur, with just a hint of cheeky politics to make the song effortlessly modern. Hozier’s soulful voice belts the word “be” over and over again throughout the chorus, with the sheer emotion in his voice sure to woo any crowd (it’s certainly wooing me.)

Wasteland, Baby!’s titular song ends the album in a perfect sum of the album’s themes. The chorus’ lyrics “Wasteland baby / I’m in love / I’m in love with you,” have a dual meaning, with Hozier potentially speaking to the wasteland itself with a form of endearment, and with Hozier singing to his love during the apocalypse. The sound is soft and undeniably romantic, and the lyrics are lovely enough to make the coldest heart swoon.

Wasteland, Baby! is exactly the album I’ve needed in my life. Hozier captures the anxiety surrounding the modern climate–both political and environmental–and dismisses it, instead turning to love in life.