Irish, alternative, indie band Inhaler made a splash with their debut in 2021, It Won’t Always Be Like This. The Irish baby band would snag number one on the album charts in both the UK and Ireland while scoring a 5th place ranking on the BBC’s Sounds of BBC Music Poll that year. The likeable album reintroduced listeners to the concept of a rock band that is unashamed to use a guitar to get their point across.
Fast forward to the current day with Inhaler on the cusp of releasing their second album, Cuts & Bruises. The band faces the ever-present question of whether they will fall victim to the fabled “second album curse” or rise above it to claim rock music victory. The verdict will be decided by the public but based on the first listen it looks like Inhaler has produced yet another stellar offering. The album features 11 songs that channel the band’s influences through their musical sensibilities.
Inhaler formed at St. Andrew’s College, Dublin, Ireland where the four members were friends before they founded the band. Inhaler is comprised of Eli Hewson performing vocals and guitar, Robert Keating on bass, Josh Jenkinson on guitar and Ryan McMahon on drums. Their shared influences shine through and cover a sizable span of rock history. In interviews, the band members mention getting inspired by the likes of the Stone Roses, Joy Division, Kings of Leon, Smashing Pumpkins, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. Inhaler’s goal is to fill a perceived need that exists in music today, to be the band that brings guitar rock back into the mainstream consciousness.
Due to Covid lockdowns, Inhaler began work on the recording that would ultimately become Cuts & Bruises almost immediately after recording It Won’t Always Be Like This. The band spent 9 months in the studio working with producer Tony Genn. On this album, the band looked to get more out of less while utilizing an 80s guitar aesthetic. They relied on spontaneity and simply jamming to come up with the tracks. What comes across is the cohesion of a band playing together in a room, rather than a producer patching together disparate parts to create songs.
Cuts & Bruises begins with “Love Will Get You There” an up-tempo, full-of-energy opener. The song contains many winning elements; a great bass line, a helium-filled backing chorus and a glistening guitar. The lyrics are catchy and the chorus of “You gotta slow down friend love will get you there” makes for an addictive song that demands repeated listens. The playlist slows down to mid-tempo for “So Far So Good.” Exemplary guitar work blends with great drums on the track. The lyrics examine the “walking on eggshells” feeling of a delicate relationship while hoping that the bottom won’t fall out. This is another tight track.
“These Are the Days” celebrates the heady feeling of a boy’s night out. The track features a fat bassline and is explosive and anthemic. Captured is the feeling of being young and having fun. It is living your best days with your friends at your side. It is a track that personifies where the band finds themselves these days. After the heady feel of “These Are the Days”, the album slows down for the ballad, “If You’re Going to Break My Heart.” The selection is filled with Soul and R/B influences while featuring Eli Hewson’s voice as the focal point. Throughout the track, there is the tension of waiting for the inevitable pain in this great break-up song. “Perfect Star” is a relationship song that starts quite dreamily and then twists into a faster dynamic. The counterpoise of the track shows nice growth in development for the band. The vocal works overtop of the pop beat as it examines how a small comment can set off a fight or a breakup.
The pinnacle of the album is “Dublin in Ecstasy” an older song the band has been bashing around for a couple of years. This delicious track is infused with New Wave ethos as it harkens to the best of what that sonic has to offer. It is a simply brilliant offering. The punchy “When I Have Her On My Mind” is filled with a panoply of great guitar work while showing off great punk beats yet is sun-flecked delivering tight band play.
“Valentine” twists the sonics again delivering inspired New Wave goodness on a highly addictive track. The song translates some serious Joy Division stylings into a modern iteration. The guitar work is excellent and Hewson shows off his vocal skills. The mid-tempo “The Things I Do” is dramatic and impressive as it explodes in the opening offering up some nicely formed blue-eyed soul. The closing song “Now You Got Me” sticks the dismount with fuzzy wah-wah guitar. On topic are the heady highs and soul-crushing lows of being in relationships in your early twenties. The solid songwriting reflects the overall arch of tensions found in all relationships utilizing the inherent tug of war and high drama of romance. This impressive track brings the recording to a close.
Cuts & Bruises displays a band that is bringing to fruition all the potential displayed on their debut. The hope after the debut was that the band would develop their estimable talents and they have delivered. The lyrics and orchestration are heartfelt and straight-shooting on this relationship album which includes examining romantic love and friendship. Substantial growth is found as the band trades in tales of reckless youth for more mature, tighter songs steeped in friendship, introspection and romance. The verdict is Inhaler is coming along quite nicely.
Be the first to comment