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Unreal Unearth Album Review

Though some of you may not realize, something historic happened on August 18th 2023. The musical artist Hozier released his third album Unreal Unearth. Throughout the album, Hozier explores concepts referenced in Dante’s Inferno. Hozier weaves complex and emotional analogies and angelic vocals with absolutely gorgeous instrumentals to produce the masterpiece this album is. As a disclaimer of sorts, I’d like to acknowledge that I am in no way an impartial observer, I love Hozier and that will be entirely evident as I share my thoughts on some of my favorite album tracks.

De Selby (part 2)
De Selby is the second track on this eclectic album. It has a blues groove sort of feeling. Hozier sings about darkness, it serves as sort of a precursor to the exploration of the nine circles of Hell that comes later in the album. He asserts that no matter any darkness he would still know the touch of his lover, he soulfully proclaims “I’d still know you, not being shown you” This song truly just feels like you are running to someone you love. I am so infatuated with the way Hozier is able to build entire worlds and experiences within his songs.

First Time

“[This song] represents limbo” Hozier said in an interview with Genius. First Time shows the cycle of an amazing experience, the crash, and the way it all begins again. One of the aspects of the song that really stands out to me is the fact that Hozier repeats the lines “Some part of me must have died the first time that you called me ‘baby’ and some part of me came alive the first time that you called me ‘baby’” The lines change from “first time” to “each time” in the middle of the song and by the end, that phrase is replaced with “last time”. It is such a subtle change but helps to show the way that loving and losing someone can be freeing and painful, the dichotomy of the two feelings doesn’t lessen the importance of one’s feelings, but instead enhances them. Hozier also utilizes dichotomy when he goes off on a beautiful tangent about the stages of life and then follows it up with a simple “Um, anyway.”

Who We Are

My favorite line from Who We Are is “Someone with your eyes might come in time to hold me like water, or Christ hold me like a knife.” Hozier claims that as humans error is natural, to crave comfort no matter the detriment, is natural. I love the imagery within this song, he shows two ways of loving so clearly by referencing water and a blade. To hold someone like water is to need them for survival, something you can create life with, but it is fleeting. It will quite literally slip between your fingers. On just about the opposite end of the spectrum is to hold someone like a knife. A knife keeps you safe but incites violence, you can only inflict pain with it. You don’t need it, but you keep it close because you want it.

Abstract (Psychopomp)

Abstract (Psychopomp) is inspired by a childhood experience of Hozier’s. As a young child, he saw a squirrel get hit by a car on the road, the unique part of this story is that someone stopped to comfort the dying animal in its last moments. The song title references the Greek mythological concept of a psychopomp which is a figure that guides dead souls in the underworld. In this story the person who stopped to be with the squirrel sort of acts as a psychopomp. On a broader scale, Hozier contemplates what is it to love someone in such a way that is proclaimed by fate despite and perhaps because of the fact that it will be horrifically detrimental to you. This concept is exemplified by the line “The moment I knew I’d no choice but to love you.” I’m fascinated by the idea of feeling that the fact you are going to love someone is as inevitable as the fact of death.

Unknown / Nth

“If there were scarlet flags, they washed out in the mind of me” In the second to last track Hozier is able to still romanticize a misunderstood love even after it has ended. The simple usage of “scarlet flags” instead of “red flags” makes the song feel so much more romantic. Scarlet brings to mind a gorgeous, rich red, but at the same time, it feels almost dangerous, like blood. Unknown / Nth is about feeling as though your partner doesn’t really know you and they continually misunderstand who you are. Hozier discusses the idea of someone loving you in such a way that they consume you, in a vicious way where you give them everything and they just take it. “You smile now, I can see [my heart’s] pieces still stuck in your teeth”

I love how throughout the album he grapples with complex feelings about loving someone. How painful yet invigorating it can be to love someone who has hurt you, how sometimes you know someone is not right for you, but you love them all the same, leaving them is crush but simultaneously freeing. All of you should most definitely give Unreal Unearth a listen!

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About the Contributor
Estella Bland
Estella Bland, Editor
Estella is a senior at MHS. This is Estella's second year on the Newspaper team and she is now the Arts and Entertainment Editor. In addition to Newspaper Estella is in the National Honor Society, Key Club, and she is the President of Ethnic Club. Estella's hobbies include cooking, art, reading, and listening to music.
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