Review: Wasteland, Baby! by Hozier

Wasteland, Baby! by HozierTwo things make Hozier’s new album, Wasteland, Baby!, interesting. One, he refuses to stick in the lane that made him successful the first time, bringing in even more of the blues and soul into his music. The record – or at least the first half of it, before it all settles – pulses with a sense of organic excitement; you can hear him get giddy with the new tricks he gets to play. (Or, it’s just how irresistible “Nina Cried Power” is, even if we’ve heard it for months now and the song feels more like a roll call than something more significant.) Two, despite all this – and again, this is more evident by the second half of the album, when the novelty wears off – this record doesn’t sound drastically different from what came before. This isn’t necessarily a criticism; you can think he’s synthesized his new playthings really well, or you can think he’s gotten bored quickly and gone back to the old template. Still, Wasteland, Baby! is not an off record, by any means. He manages to bring all he’s got, and the life seeping through the record should be enough to keep it afloat. [NB]3/5

“Lord, she found me just in time.”

“Jackie and Wilson” by Hozier | My problem with Hozier is that the first I heard of him was “Take Me To Church”. I heard that everywhere, and I didn’t like it. I mean, it wasn’t offensive. It isn’t bad. It just was everywhere, like it was begging so hard to be liked, and while people did, I didn’t. It’s the one thing that prevented me from investigating further, even if my friend Immie was singing his praises, despite his album having come out by then. Anyway, it’s now 2015, and radio stations are shifting their focus, and the Irishman’s other songs are getting play (and getting recognized for it). The church-y reverb on his breakout single remains, but there’s less of a whine and more of a swagger here. I would’ve posted “From Eden” and its lackadaisical charm, but went for this one instead, partly because of the name, and partly because it’s much more lackadaisical – because it sounds like it’s trying less. “Take Me To Church” tried too hard. This doesn’t. There you go, Hozier. I’m interested. [NB]