Arriving with their long-awaited debut, Dublin four-piece Inhaler have managed to create an album that has the opportunity to dominate the charts at every instance
When I first heard Inhaler I thought, “Blimey, this guy sounds like Bono”, and for obvious reasons, that was the case. The Irish boys burst onto the scene with Indie-Rock anthems like ‘My Honest Face” and “It Won’t Always Be Like This”, the latter of which is the titular track to a surprisingly cognitive debut record. And whilst front man Elijah Hewson has inherited the smooth, yet angsty voice of his father, this is not just Bono’s sons’ band, this is Inhaler, an entirely different entity made by four young lads out of Dublin providing unapologetic light-hearted Indie-Pop Rock that borrows from the best in that category of the last dour decades.
The aforementioned titular track has been re-recorded providing a grungier tone to the rhythm section and a chance for Hewson to exercise his vocal prowess a little bit more than what was featured on the version that they released as single. Perhaps signalling a change in the band since its release. “My Honest Face”, however, remains a fast-paced lesson in Indie-Rock music. And so, the tracks that people have come to know Inhaler for come to an end, and in rushes a sonic exploration that sends the listener bouncing around the years and the genres.
“Slide Out the Window” is the first example that there’s more to Inhaler than meets the eye. A dreamy synth-pop number for when you want to be anywhere else except locked up in the house, a sentiment I’m sure we’ve all shared at one point or another of late. The track opens with a lithe Josh Jenkinson riff that carries you away alongside a bass tone reminiscent of the early works of The Style Council. All of this before being sent down a short brit-pop psychedelic rabbit-hole which cuts into a roomy, slow ballad-esque middle eight before returning to form with the chorus and that aforementioned lithe riff. The changes in tempo really are a testament to the talent of Ryan McMahon (drummer), and Robert Keating (Bassist) in the rhythm section, which is exemplary throughout the LP.
The band aimed to place a positive spin on the themes in the LP given the dire nature of the last 18 months, which was an inspiration for the use of “It Won’t Always Be Like This” as the title track. Words of reassurance and calm are commonplace throughout the LP as shown in “Cheer Up Baby”, a track the bears a sonic resemblance to “My Honest Face” but prevails in the tender nature of the lyrics.
“A Night on The Floor” sees Hewson croon about doom-scrolling over huge, spaced out guitar strikes and a grooving bassline, which strikes a chord with “AM” era Arctic Monkeys, a Mini Mansions-esque guitar solo. More stripped back and slightly more acoustic, “My King Will Be Kind” serves as a warning to young people who are at risk of being radicalised in online environments, one can hear a hint of The Cure in the tone of the synths and the desert rock fuzz on the guitars. “When It Breaks”, lends itself more to noughties post-punk revival. There’s Brandon Flowers vocal influence over the quick alternating movements between rhythm and lead guitars offering similarities to Interpol and The Strokes, in a song that focuses on the hectic news cycle around the time of the pandemic beginning.
There’s a 1980’s coloured cloud that lingers over “Who’s Your Money On?”, I’m reminded in the intro of Talking Heads “Nothing But Flowers”, and The The’s “This Is The Day” in the combination of the guitars and synthesisers. Hewson wrote this as an apology to his bandmates as he described that his distant mind hindered the recording of the album. “Without you, the odds are not in my favour, we’ve got everything to lose and everything to play for” he chimes as the track breaks down into what feels like a completely different song. One where the guitars reverberate in arpeggios, and the synthesisers provide room to a massive soundscape, “Who’s your money on? This plastic house is built on sand”, he laments as it fades to black.
“Totally” is a song for the arenas which Inhaler will no doubt one day fill, a sure fire sing along, “Why does it hurt me so much?” Hewson belts, you can already here the crowds singing it back to them. I particularly enjoyed the bouncing piano chords that introduce and carry on throughout the song, and their resemblance to Britney Spears “… Oh Baby One More Time”.
Closing the LP are “What a Strange Time To Be Alive”, a piano led almost shoegazed number, and “In My Sleep” probably the heaviest of the songs on the LP in part due to the rocking bassline that takes sonic influence from The Killers “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine”. But is most likely a triumphant nod to the predecessors that put Ireland on the musical map, I’m not naming names, but I’m pretty sure we all know what band I’m talking about.
Here we have Inhaler, producing a debut album that has the opportunity to dominate the charts with every single one of these songs having the capabilities to be a radio hit and they’ll likely be coming soon to an arena near you.
It Won’t Always Be Like This is out now via Polydor Records and is available to stream and download now