It's been five years since Hozier's self-titled debut album was released, and many of us have spent those years in hopeful anticipation of the next time he would release new music. Now, we have "Wasteland, Baby!"--a fourteen-track album of musical experimentation and pure lyrical poetry that was worth every minute of the wait. Here are the best lyrics from every track on "Wasteland, Baby!"
1. Nina Cried Power: "Power has been cried by those stronger than me/Straight into the face that tells you to/Rattle your chains if you love being free"
"Nina Cried Power" contains some of the most powerful messages on the album, including this spur to action by the legendary Mavis Staples.
2. Almost (Sweet Music): "I got some colour back, she thinks so, too/I laugh like me again, she laughs like you"
"Almost," is a love letter of sorts to legendary jazz artists like Duke Ellington and Chet Baker. Within it is still concealed a modern and specific story of a healing relationship. This lyric, while possibly referencing Chet Baker's "I Get Along With You Very Well" also shows the power of love and music to restore color and laughter to someone's life.
3. Movement: "When you move/I can recall something that's gone from me/When you move/Honey, I'm put in awe of somethin' so flawed and free"
Many songs on "Wasteland, Baby!" serve as homages, and "Movement" could be considered an homage to great dancers. Then again, it could also be considered simply an homage to being captivated with everything about the person you love, to hanging on their every move. This lyric worships the imperfect perfection of said person and the way they make you realize what you've been missing.
4. No Plan: "There's no plan, there's no hand on the rein/As Mack explained, there will be darkness again"
Here Hozier references astrophysicist Dr. Katherine J. Mark's belief that the universe will ultimately dissolve into ultimate nothingness. "No Plan" details two people's reckless choosing of each other in spite of that--that they don't need a plan, they don't need to try to control what they can't, they'll still choose each other.
5. Nobody: "I wouldn't fall for someone I thought couldn't misbehave"
The relationship Hozier sings about in "Nobody" is by no means perfect. These two people lead each other through dangerously high highs and low lows. However, these people have never expected perfection from each other, knowing that a traditional relationship wouldn't work; they need misbehavior.
6. To Noise Making (Sing): "You don't have to sing it nice, but honey sing it strong/At best, you'll find a little remedy/At worst, the world will sing along"
"To Noise Making" is one of the most upbeat songs on the album, about the power of singing and the joy it can bring. Here, Hozier encourages his partner not to worry about singing beautifully, but just to sing for the sake of singing, in the hope that it will heal them or reach out to others.
7. As It Was: "And in a few days I would be there, love/Whatever here that's left of me is yours just as it was"
"As It Was" is about the relationship you just can't let go of. Despite heart break, Hozier sings that he would go back to his lover in a moment, ready to give up all of his heart once more.
8. Shrike: "I was housed by your warmth, thus transformed/By your grounded and giving and darkening scorn/Remember me, love, when I'm reborn/As a shrike to your sharp and glorious thorn"
"Shrike" is one of my favorite tragic songs. Once it settles into you, it stays. This final chorus encapsulates some of the most achingly poetic loss and longing you'll ever hear.
Here is someone who found a home in someone, only to lose them by their own failure to voice their feelings. Their only hope is to live on in their lover's mind--but even then, only as a shrike impaling prey on their thorn.
9. Talk: "Imagine being loved by me"
"Talk" one of my favorite tracks, is sung by an unreliable narrator trying his hand at seduction. He makes all sorts of grand promises, like the having devotion of Orpheus, the forgiveness of Eurydice, and the last shred of truth. It's overblown and cocky, and we can't help falling for it anyway.
10. Be: "Be love in its disrepute/Scorches the hillside and salts every root/And watches the slowin' and starvin' of troops"
"Be" simultaneously begs for unconditional love and criticizes the complacency we have in the presence of world tragedies, like war, climate change, and the rejecting of refugees.
11. Dinner & Diatribes: "Your friends are a fate that befell me/Hell is the talking type"
"Dinner & Diatribes" is the most playful song on the album, essentially describing being stuck in an awkward situation and the desire to escape it with the one person you actually want to be with. We've all been there.
12. Would That I: "I fell in love with the fire long ago"
"Would That I" is an extended metaphor in which Hozier envisions himself as a tree and his partner as the flame. Instead of fearing his eventual destruction by her, he embraces the warmth she gives him, and the fact that while they are together, he burns bright.
13. Sunlight: "I would trade the hum of night, share in evening's cool and quiet/Who would trade the hum of night/For sunlight, sunlight, sunlight"
Hozier often deals with darker, nihilistic themes, but "Sunlight" is all hope. In this song, he sings about finding someone he would give everything for and who gives him sunlight in return.
14. Wasteland, Baby!: "Be still, my indelible friend, you are unbreaking"
"Wasteland, Baby!" shows us the hope at the end of the world. Both the album and this title track deal with great pain, but also show us what's left to hold onto. In this lyric lies much of the heart of the album: that we are irreplaceable, and damaged though we may be, still whole.