An Intimate Meal With Hozier in “Eat Your Young”

Irish singer and songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne drops EP ahead of an upcoming album.


Photo NME

The official cover of Hozier’s new EP, “Eat Your Young.”

Juno Le, Co-Editor-in-Chief

“Picture a man, see like a speck out from the shore, swimming out beyond the breakers like he’s done his life before” is the imagery Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known as Hozier, begins the third track of his new EP with. Looking back at the last three years, it’s hard to look past the legacies of a fear-ridden world that’s fought its way through a global pandemic, war, and social uprisings. Hozier holds the hands of his listeners and guides them through the memory of it with sensual lyrics drawing them back to shore.

Many faces of Hozier’s fans, myself included, have been around since the release of “Take Me to Church” dominated every radio station and put the Irish singer and songwriter’s name on the charts. This song and many others of the artist have used poignant lyrics to dance around more sensitive, often taboo topics that at the time of his greatest hit’s release were not normalized in media and the arts. Hozier has no issue mixing political advocacy with art, releasing his single “Swan Upon Leda” last year in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade. However, the Irish bard’s latest EP acts less as a fight and more as an intimate letter.

“Eat Your Young” was released on March 17 (Hozier’s 33rd Birthday!), with the artist also announcing that an album, “Unreal Unearth,” would be released in late summer as well as a tour. The EP includes three roughly four-minute-long tracks, the first being the title track and two others following. Both “Eat Your Young” and “Unreal Unearth” take inspiration from Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno,” with the album to be thematically structured based on the nine circles of hell as described. For someone whose breakout song discussed religious trauma and disassociation, Hozier takes the cake in referencing the fiery pits down under.

The titular track of the “Eat Your Young” EP references Dante’s third circle of hell: gluttony. I highly recommend listening to this track with headphones. Hozier, ever the siren, melodically whispers a description of a feast that is being prepared and served and the chaos that ensues along with it. The title of this track could possibly be referring to “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift (since he seems to be catching up on some epic poetry reading), in which it’s suggested that the poor could sell their children to be cannibalistically consumed by the rich in order to escape poverty. The song is sensual and seductive, effortlessly embodying the growing gluttony of youth in a world where media and art are quickly consumed and scrapped. Like all of Hozier’s songs, it feels as if you’re alone with him and this is more of a personal, intimate conversation rather than a message strung out for the whole world to see. The rhythmic beating and percussions against Hozier’s baritone throughout the track create a moody tension, lulling listeners by creating feelings of temptation in his musical visualization genius. Because while gluttony can very easily be fought, it’s an existing, seductive whisper.

“All Things End” is currently my favorite song from “Eat Your Young.” I am not kidding when I say I teared up during my second listen of it once I had the lyrics pulled up next to me. While the surface of this track can easily be interpreted as understanding the end of a relationship approaching, the religious presentations in the lyrics “When people say that something is forever/Either way, it ends” and “We should not change our plans/When we begin again” may be referencing the sixth circle of hell according to Dante: Heresy. The song is refreshing, with the choir vocals evoking the most emotional response out of me every time I re-listened to this track. It’s as if Hozier had cast his hand over me and drawn out any bad spirits that may have been holding me back. From how I see it, “All Things End” may also be about obsession and moving on from the temporary and the material. Entering the bridge of the song is relieving and I finished the song feeling lighter.

The final track of the EP, “Through Me (The Flood)” deserves a high-five, a pat on the back and a handshake. For a three-song-EP, even if it was Hozier, I was expecting to enjoy it for a moment and then move on. But no, this third track was a sharp slap in the face that stung in all the good ways. The song looks back at death, possibly the losses of the COVID-19 pandemic that swept the world and reaped the living. But the artist does not dwell on grief and loss. “The Flood” in the track’s title references the sweeping waves lyrically described. Waves crash, take what’s theirs back, and return to crash once again. It highlights the strength that helped the rest of the world survive the losses. The song is uplifting, an upbeat way of drawing back from the moody depths of the previous two tracks.

“Eat Your Young” left me sitting in dead silence for about five minutes after listening. Despite the length of the EP, it deserves just as much appreciation as all of Hozier’s prior releases. Hozier never fails to make a piece that feels just as intimate as the last, each release maturing and growing. If “Unreal Unearth” is anything like “Eat Your Young” given how they are both taking inspiration from Dante’s “Inferno,” the bar has been set sky high in the heavens (kind of ironic).