- 02 Jul 21
Rising Dublin rock outfit rack up the anthems on powerful debut album
First, the good news: Inhaler have gift-wrapped a brilliant soundtrack to the end of lockdown, in their debut album It Won’t Always Be Like This. Now, the even better news: packed full of died-in-the-wool anthems, the record is tightly produced, lyrically appealing, musically inventive and – with the help of the band’s first ever Hot Press cover story next week – an almost certain No.1 in Ireland.
It Won’t Always Be Like This opens with a razor sharp synth. Sparse, distorted guitars flank the drum and bass on what is the title track. With lead singer Elijah Hewson’s vocals to the fore, it is a powerful opening salvo.
Inhaler keep the tempo upbeat on ‘My Honest Face'. Robert Keating’s fine melodic bass lines point the way, with sublime skill, for the rest of the band. “I didn’t want to hurt you/ but there’s just a certain culture when you’re young/ Call it fun,” Elijah Hewson pleads and you shiver. Too many of us have been there, on either side of that equation – or both.
In contrast, ‘Slide Out The Window’ is a dreamy psychedelic jaunt, wherein drummer Ryan McMahon gets to demonstrate his deft rhythmic heft: this boy can drum. The break in the middle is entrancing, as Inhaler lead us through a trippy soundscape. Nothing is real, as the man said, and nothing to get hung about...
On ‘Cheer Up Baby,’ we hear some of Hewson’s best, most effervescent vocals: even if you didn’t know, you might divine that he is Bono’s son, as he strikes what feels like a perfect balance between lyrical clarity and rock ’n’ roll grit. There’s a crystalline sliding synth in the bang-your-head instrumental break after the chorus, and then it’s into the home run.
Every element of ‘When It Breaks’ is explosive. People think of Inhaler as being influenced by late ‘70s and ‘80s bands like Talking Heads, Joy Division and PIL, and they are – but I am reminded here of early 2000’s American rock. The band demonstrate their ability to mix things up – and it works. “Like Paris in ’45/ the whole world’s waiting to come alive,” Hewson sings and the end of lockdown seems even more full of promise.
‘Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House)’ is a song in two parts. The opening half is full-on big music, with Keating’s treble-heavy bass wrapping itself around Josh Jenkinson’s spiky guitar. There’s a shift for the second half, with moody guitar and eerie, spacey vocals from Hewson.
It’s back to the 80’s for ‘Totally', which is one of the most powerful and anthemic tracks on the album. Lyrically, there are references to smoking, talking until the sun comes up and broken hearts: the spirit of indie laid bare.
In many ways, this record doesn’t feel like a debut: there is an impression of authority, a sense that a young Dublin band that started out as kids has now reached the first plateau of maturity.
There is still a long road to travel before global domination is achieved, but It Won’t Always Be Like This is foot-stomping confirmation that Inhaler are one of Ireland’s hottest rising rock acts.
Next stop, the world.
Listen: 'Slide Out The Window'
It Won’t Always Be Like This will be released on July 9th via Polydor Records.