Nostalgia fuelled 80s indie rock from the Dublin four-piece.
When discussing Inhaler, it is difficult to not bring attention to the fact that the quartet's frontman, Elijah Hewson, is the son of none other than Bono. It is especially significant when the phrase “Nepo Baby” has been thrown into the spotlight in recent discourse. There are undeniable similarities between the tonality and delivery of Hewson and his father with comparisons being inevitable. However, the level of success that the band have already enjoyed with their debut album, It Won’t Always Be Like This, shows a band carving their own path to the top without riding any coattails. They became the first Irish band in 13 years to reach number one in the UK and Irish Album charts whilst also having the fastest-selling vinyl of any UK band this century. As the quartet make a storming return with their sophomore album Cuts and Bruises, they are sure to drown out any accusations of nepotism and establish themselves on their own terms.
The Irish rock scene seems to be having a thriving renaissance being spearheaded by the likes of Fontaines D.C., with their recent Brit Award success, and Inhaler as they return with their latest album Cuts and Bruises. The band are certainly both sonically and stylistically picking up where their first album left off with their latest album packed with slick, streamlined indie rock accompanied by romping riffs and euphoric choruses. The album kicks off with Just To Keep You Satisfied, fluorescent, vibrant 80s-inspired synthesisers blending with the textured, layered echo of Hewson's vocals, a sound that already seems geared to fill stadiums. The sphere of 1980s indie rock has clearly had a strong influence on the band both musically and stylistically, with the album artwork evoking imagery of bands like Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure.
The buoyant beginning of the album continues with the ebullient Love Will Get You There. It is indie pop rock in its purest form, with bouncy Strokes-inspired drum patterns and effervescent guitar chords. Hewson croons lyrics of youthful optimism, “If you hold on my friend/ Love will get you there”. As the album progresses the band show their versatility with the slowed-down angsty ballad of If You’re Gonna Break My Heart. The opening chords almost seem to have a country twang to them as Hewson weaves a sombre portrait of a relationship breaking down, “I showed you mercy/ You gave me murder”. Undeniably a lyrical highlight of the album with the band showing off their songwriting prowess.
Old fan favourite Dublin In Ecstasy is very much the epic showpiece of the album. It is filled with huge sounding, cascading riffs that drive the song as Hewson is at his most impassioned, “I only want to speak if you have the time/ I only wanna fight if it's for your life”. Towards the end of the album, it feels to be lacking the album's earlier punch with songs like The Things I Do not quite sharing the same impetus.
The band's evocation of music of a time gone by is certainly no reason to not be invested in Inhaler and they have definitely laid the groundwork to expand upon their sound on future records. Cuts and Bruises is a band validating their success as they move far out of any Bono-shaped shadows into the limelight – next stop, arenas.