With intense brooding and unique style, the latest offering from Hozier hints at a promising follow-up album that will be worth the five-year wait.
There are two sides to Hozier’s music: the sunny, easy-going RnB influenced side, and the dark, moody blues tinged with soul.
Dinner & Diatribes, the fifth track to be released from the sequel to Hozier’s 2014 self-titled debut, is decidedly the latter.
So far from the tracks released from Wasteland Baby! (which releases March 1 2019), have shown a fair amount of the lighter side of his music, with the exception of the hugely powerful Nina Cried Power. Dinner & Diatribes harnesses some of that power, albeit in a less dynamic way.
This folk-rooted track is led throughout by a kick drum, and a thin, darting guitar line quite akin to some Biffy Clyro tracks (see Milky; Sounds Like Balloons). The track travels menacingly between verse and chorus, layering choir-like backing vocals in the same way as Nina Cried Power and older tracks like Arsonist’s Lullaby do, and demonstrating the power that vocals can have in the absence of instruments. Other than vocals, the track is actually quite stripped back, thankfully, because that allows that backing choir to come through – arguably the most effective element of Hozier’s sound.
The production is immaculate; I was quite interested to find out that much of Hozier’s work is self-produced because it explained a lot about how he’s able to balance traditional production techniques with his unique musical style. His creative license is clearly pretty permissive because this is what raw, undiluted vision sounds like.
The darker side of Hozier’s music seems to come much more naturally, and without a doubt suits his voice better. He’s incredibly effective at achieving that tortured intensity in his vocals and his best work lyrically fits the dark side much more comfortably. While the lust-filled lyrics here aren’t particularly poetic, they do suit the music.
The one gripe I have with this track is that though it continually builds in dynamic and intensity, it doesn’t build to a particularly climactic moment, and rather dies down a little at the end. The final chorus is almost identical to the one before it and doesn’t introduce anything new instrumentally or structurally. A minor flaw in an otherwise excellent track.
While not musically or lyrically as impactful as Nina Cried Power, Dinner & Diatribes is passionate and stylistically absorbing. Another promising introduction to Hozier’s second album. I just hope the rest of Wasteland Baby! has the choir section too.