Sophomore albums can make or break an artist. Yet, the Irish band Inhaler has proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in the alternative pop-rock scene. On Feb 17., the four-piece recently released their second album, “Cuts & Bruises,” and VALLEY cannot stop listening.
With the recent release of this album and a North American tour quickly approaching, Inhaler is a band you will want to keep your eye on. VALLEY is here to provide a run-down on the band and their new album, along with sharing what’s to come in the future for this electrifying act.
Hailing from Dublin, Inhaler is made up of Elijah Hewson (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Robert Keating (bass guitar, backing vocals), Josh Jenkinson (lead guitar) and Ryan McMahon (drums). The four-piece grew close while growing up in school thanks to their shared love and interest in guitar music. The band first made their debut at a talent show with a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. After that performance, Inhaler continued to experiment and write music of their own.
“Everybody saw the band as quite nerdy and geeky and we thought it was cool,” says Hewson in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I had asthma for a while and people just kind of started calling us the Inhalers. It was something that stuck. It felt right.”
Since 2017, Inhaler has been releasing singles and EPs. In July of 2021, they released their debut album, “It Won’t Always Be Like This.” That album proved to be a success and a pivotal moment for the Inhaler’s career — they became the first Irish band to top the UK charts with their debut album in 13 years. On top of that, the album was the fastest-selling debut album on vinyl by any band this century.
The following year, Inhaler presented the album for fans at summer festivals, such as Glastonbury, and shows across North America, the UK and Europe. The band also had the opportunity to support both the Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon.
According to Jenkinson, the band played a total of 106 shows in 2022. “We didn’t process all the stuff we did [as it was happening]. We had a really great year. It was really amazing,” he says.
Breaking Down “Cuts & Bruises”
In their debut album, you could feel a sense of youthfulness within the band and that they were figuring out their sound. Yet with “Cuts & Bruises,” Inhaler solidifies themselves as a rock band by developing their own identity through 11 differing tracks. In terms of themes, in an interview with Joe Dotie, Hewson says the album tackles themes of “companionship and brotherhood.”
“We’re all responsible for each other and that’s a hard thing to balance,” Hewson says in an interview with Rolling Stone. “We just kind of stopped writing songs about love for some reason and wrote about the love we have for each other.”
The album opens up with the stripped-down track, “Just To Keep You Satisfied.” A contrast to the louder, noisier sounds from “It Won’t Always Be Like This,” this track sets the tone that for this album, less is more.
Some notable tracks after the opener include the previously released singles, “Love Will Get You There,” “These Are The Days” and “If You’re Gonna Break My Heart.” Each of these tracks are grounded with dynamic vocals from Hewson and choruses that are reminiscent of rock anthems you would belt out in a stadium.
Differing from their first album, one of the overarching highlights of “Cuts & Bruises” are the unique sounds that Inhaler experiments with. Some tracks where this is most prominent include “So Far So Good” and “The Things I Do.” Throughout the album, Inhaler takes risks with warped backing sounds and rhythms.
Track seven, “Dublin in Ecstasy,” is perhaps the star of the album. Created in 2018, Inhaler would play this song at some of their early gigs and fans quickly became obsessed with it. From the heavy sounds of the guitar and drums to the electric lyrics sung by Hewson, this nostalgic pop-rock track is the epitome of Inhaler.
Fans of the band shared their thoughts on the new album with VALLEY.
A longtime fan of the band, MJ Bergin, 22, says, “This album sounds like Inhaler has really fallen into a comfortable rhythm and they’re confident enough to take risks with their sound. It’s definitely the resurgence of pure rock and roll.” Bergin’s favorite tracks include “Just To Keep You Satisfied,” “So Far So Good” and “The Things I Do.”
Inhaler fan Harmony Sesenton’s favorite track is “Dublin in Ecstasy.” The 22-year-old says, “I think that song, in particular, evoked a sense of nostalgia for me and is one of those songs that make you feel alive or like you’re speeding down a highway.”
What’s To Come For Inhaler?
2023 will be another notable year for Inhaler. The band is currently wrapping up their UK tour and will quickly make their way across the pond, with their first show of the North American leg in Austin, Texas. If you are from Pennsylvania, Inhaler will be playing in Philadelphia on Thursday, March 16 at the Theatre of Living Arts.
Along with touring North America, Inhaler will be playing shows and festivals across the UK and Europe this summer, including opening for the Arctic Monkeys once again and Harry Styles.
You can visit Inhaler’s website for information on their tour and ways to purchase and stream their sophomore album, “Cuts & Bruises.”
Have you listened to Inhaler before? Let VALLEY know your thoughts on Instagram by tagging @valleymag!