Inhaler have been holding on to six words since they were teenagers. “It won’t always be like this,” they first told us in a song written about a break-up almost a decade ago, a phrase which earned richer meaning last year when the world shut down and all we could do was wait it out.
The Dublin band re-recorded ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ – now much better showcasing the dynamic vocals of frontman Eli Hewson (a dead ringer, sonically, for his dad Bono) – as the title track and opener of their debut album. It’s a galvanising introduction that sets the tone for the record that follows: full of defiance, optimism and plenty of guitars.
Hewson is joined in Inhaler by Robert Keating on bass, Ryan McMahon on drums and Josh Jenkinson on guitar, the latter of which can be credited with the album’s strongest melodies, providing the kind of radio-ready hooks and anthemic riffs that a history of rock legends would be proud of. It’s as impressive on the mellow ‘Slide Out The Window’ as it is on slinky lead single ‘Cheer Up Baby’, which channels the same sense of hope as the title track.
Inhaler are trying to step out of their ancestors’ shadows too, and they succeed to an extent. Standouts ‘Who’s Your Money On’ and ‘Totally’ are powered by groove-inflected basslines and shimmering synths, boasting the kind of robust sound you’d usually expect from an established band who have been trying to challenge themselves, and their fans, for decades.
Lyrically, Inhaler are still somewhat shackled by their youth. On the unmistakably Blossoms-inspired ‘My King Will Be Kind’, Hewson wails: “She says I’ve got no love / I fucking hate that bitch”. Such an outburst feels out of place for a band so lacking in rage (which, usually, serves them well). Fumbling through shallow insults about girls, love and losing your mind, or confusing violence and reckless seduction with a line like “I could be a killer / Gonna get you whacked” on the otherwise immense ‘My Honest Face’, is somewhat disappointing.
Still, there’s more than enough rousing material here to set Inhaler up for success. They’re not the first and certainly won’t be the last guitar band, but Hewson is clearly pushing himself to do so much more than just make his dad proud. ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ is teeming with nervous energy over trying to find balance in a world turned inside out, while flashes of more mature reflections on saints, sinners, kings and dreams are also promising.
- Release date: July 9
- Release label: Polydor