Back in 2014, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Hozier‘s ‘Take Me To Church.’ It seemed as if he disappeared off the face of the Earth after he wrapped up the cycle for his debut, but now, he’s back and bigger than ever. Hozier returns with power and experience with his long-awaited sophomore record Wasteland, Baby!
Wasteland, Baby! shows that not only is Hozier here to make a statement, but that he has both the bark and bite to make it effective. Single ‘Nina Cried Power‘ opens the record, a distinct and powerful drive carrying Hozier’s urgent, warning vocals as he roars above the instrumental, hailing those who have raised their voice in protest in the past. Mavis Staples adds an important and distinct power to the track, her bluesy timbre pairing with the song’s gospel overtones perfectly. Huge atmospheres dominate the record as it progresses, tracks like ‘Movement‘ and ‘Dinner & Diatribes‘ bringing a massive vibe to the album, coming to life with big energy and distinct moods. Hozier’s softer songs on the record also come with engaging atmospheres: ‘As It Was‘ is a weathered acoustic folk number that really shows his songwriting abilities and his prowess over a more intense vibe.
There’s not a single track on Wasteland, Baby! that feels like it falls short of greatness. Not every track is a banger, but most at least keep things enjoyable. The only track that feels like it’s just a bit too repetitive is ‘To Noise Making (Sing),’ and even then it sort of fits the track’s more poppy, sing-a-long atmosphere. Warm indie ballads like ‘Nobody‘ and ‘Would That I‘ add more character and dynamic to the record, while chiller numbers like ‘Shrike‘ and ‘No Plan‘ with its great guitar work add color and provide reprieve from some of the more meaningfully intense tracks. The record ends calmly with a combo of ‘Sunlight,’ a track with a beautiful atmosphere to it, and title track ‘Wasteland, Baby!‘ that ends things off on a calm and calculated note.
Hozier’s sophomore record Wasteland, Baby! is the perfect, righteous comeback for one of rock’s most distinguished acts. It has flair, passion, and plenty of originality to spare, and hits hard even when hitting the soft notes. Only Hozier could bring it back like this.
Favorite Tracks: Dinner & Diatribes, Nina Cried Power, Movement
Least Favorite Track: To Noise Making (Sing)
Rating: 84 / 100
Stream or buy Wasteland, Baby! on Apple Music, and follow our 2019 Playlist on Spotify: