Album Review: Inhaler – It Won’t Always Be Like This5 min read
The story of four guys from Dublin forming a band and gaining momentum off the back of their debut album is a familiar one. But surely Inhaler cannot achieve the same world-domination as their famous predecessors? I wouldn’t be so quick to make such an assumption though, given that the frontman of this new fourpiece is the son of none other than Bono himself. Naturally, such a status comes with a much higher level of interest and expectation than any ordinary lead vocalist of a new indie band would receive, but Elijah Hewson holds up well. His great voice suits the band’s music and although his look and maybe even his voice reminds those familiar of a young Bono, it is nice to see he is not flying on the expansive coattails of his father but rather making his own way in the industry.
It Won’t Always Be Like This is an eleven track LP fit to bursting with high energy songs and catchy riffs. The title track gets the album underway with a synth sound that speaks pop and drums that speak rock. It is not the sort of obnoxious pop-rock that lacks substance however, but rather a work by an indie rock band which draws you to the quartet and makes you an instant fan. Musical instinct clearly runs through the Hewson home! The opening track has a great energy to it and makes a big positive statement to start the album off with, but can the rest of the album keep up?
The big sliding lead guitar lines, taken from the likes of Kings of Leon, in following track My Honest Face answers this question quickly with a resounding yes. But next track Slide Out The Window has a more distant feel to it. The very percussive section that follows the initial intro makes use of a constant hi hat sound while a catchy high-pitched riff that stays in your head plays over it. This slightly incongruous music sets up a song with a less cohesive mix than is otherwise heard in the album. The riff induces a feeling of being on edge when it reappears, but this is offset by the vocals which have less energy than elsewhere on the LP. The music gets very messy at the end of the second chorus but far from being unlistenable, this quirky song offers something interesting and a bit different to the rest of the album.
Track 4 Cheer Up Baby returns to a much more classic setup. First a clean guitar riff is played on top of the bass, then enter the drums, after which the song is built until there’s a crash in the chorus before the song finally settles back down to the main riff. The simple drums sound good and really hold up well, even in the chorus. They seem to take their place in the mix and refuse to give it up. A Night On The Floor has a much busier but exciting intro. The listener is left with a feeling of waiting for something to happen, but this feeling, although more subtle than in the intro, is felt throughout the song. The song carries you on a tsunami wave of music but as good as it is, it feels as if you are waiting for something even more. It almost comes at the end with a wah guitar solo but this needs to be longer and more puncturing to take the song to the next level.
The faintly longing melodies that come in to My King Will Be Kind gives the song a melancholic yearning to it, despite the dark and angry chorus lyrics: ‘I f*cking hate that b*tch, cause she takes and she takes, she won’t give in’. As is subliminally suggested by the name, the start of When It Breaks represents a break in the style of the album, erring more towards a pop song. But this slice of rocky pop, which is a note on loyalty, is so much better than any ordinary mediocre pop. The song really builds, depicting the drama that will lead up to ‘when the storm breaks.’
There’s another turn in the album with Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House) which is begun with a strange combination of 80s synth sounds and a bright bass. The song is comprised of a concoction of sonics but builds to keep up with the energy that the listener has now come to expect. It is the longest track on the album, due to a break at the four-minute mark that brings it right down, which although intriguing, does not quite fit in with the album which has been fairly monolithic in its stylings so far. Totally brings you back from your confusing haze with an upbeat groove set against a lyric which describes the clashing of lovers and therefore questions why their split ‘hurts so much’, despite apparently ‘not meaning that much’.
The couplet of songs which conclude the album starts with a short ethereal number which features far-off vocals awash with effects as drowning piano chords come in. This being an anomaly of a track parallels with its title of Strange Time To Be Alive. However, the album needed to end with high energy and does so with final track In My Sleep, which also has the same slightly longing vocals, both in form and the sense of yearning, although the music provides quite a heavy and hectic backing.
There are many reasons to listen to It Won’t Always Be Like This by Inhaler. The most obvious being to assess whether Elijah Hewson matches up to his virtually untouchable father, while the simplest is that it is a great-sounding debut album by an exciting new indie rock band. A personal highlight was A Night On The Floor, with the fact that noticing there was another gear to be found making it exciting to think we will be hearing this Dublin quartet evolving over what will hopefully be many future albums.