“Six words to hang onto” – It’s been a long time coming, but the hotly anticipated debut from arguably the most exciting emerging band on the indie scene has finally dropped, and it was most definitely worth the wait
Photo credit: Press
If there is a band so exciting that I’ve had to force everyone in my life to jump on the bandwagon, it’s a certain band from Dublin. Whilst I really should be apologising for how I can’t participate in any conversation at the moment without getting the urge (and then failing to suppress the feeling) to bring up indie quartet, Inhaler, I can’t really be blamed for it, because I’m doing anyone who will listen a serious favour. Inhaler are a breath of fresh air (pardon the pun) on the indie scene right now, and you really don’t want to be missing out as their latest release is about to take them places (maybe even to an honest place. That is, of course, if Eli manages to find his “Honest Face”).
Inhaler, formed in school circa 2012, have been a promising, young, emerging talent for a couple of years now; they were included in NME’s Top 100 last year, before progressing on to be shortlisted for BBC’s Sound Of 2020, ranking at number five in the annual poll.
In interviews, the indie-rock quartet consisting of vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Elijah Hewson, bassist, Robert Keating, lead guitarist, Josh Jenkinson and drummer, Ryan McMahon, promised that their hotly anticipated debut record would find itself in the hands of teenage girls, and their dads (you can use Google to figure out why – it shouldn’t take too long), across the globe, by the summer of 2020. I don’t think it needs to be said what happened next, we all lived through the shitshow that was twenty-twenty, and I’m sure we’re all sick of reminiscing it by now.
However, despite the circumstances trying to stop it from being Inhaler’s year, the finished product, It Won’t Always Be Like This, is finally with us, and Inhaler are still yet to disappoint.
As a whole body of work, It Won’t Always Be Like This is an uplifting and euphoric celebration of the times that we’ve been through, especially with the prospect of things (slowly) beginning to look up, and opening track, under the same name, lays out nicely what the band want you to take from the three quarters of an hour ensemble. The track has evolved and grown with the band pretty much since the beginning, and has been around since way before the events of the past seventeen months occurred, so to have this as both the opener and the overarching title for their first full length effort seems natural. It’s been described as “six words to hang onto” by the members themselves, and even when you take it out of the context of a global pandemic, it’s a nice message to apply to anything you’re going through, even if you were to completely flip it on its head and see it as “things are going to get a lot worse”. It is clear from just the first four minutes of the record, that these tracks are versatile and can easily become related to our everyday occurrences as human beings, suggesting future generations will also be able to appreciate the collection of tracks, despite, luckily for them, not living through these strange times.
It’s clear that over the years, this track has taken on new meanings that nobody could have ever predicted, so it was a pretty obvious decision for the band to re-record it and release it as a new track. Whilst both versions are so anthemic and positive, the new version feels much more mature, with clearer and much stronger vocals, presenting a noticeable improvement in Eli’s voice, the more resonant drum beat, and overall better production, courtesy of Antony Genn (former member of Pulp, and the composer of the Peaky Blinders soundtrack, amongst other things). This re-recording seems to be much more in sync with the rest of the album, and having it as the opening track really gives you a sense of what is to come, defining this new era of Inhaler.
Leading on from the serotonin induced anthemic pop track is another familiar favourite amongst fans, My Honest Face, a track about finding who you are, and choosing a persona; a theme that appears to be quite evident within Inhaler’s discography. It feels like a coming of age.
The LP takes a slightly different musical direction on the more mellow, mid-tempo number, Slide Out The Window, a track that perfectly encapsulates lockdown life, being in a constant state of reflection, whilst wishing that you could just escape somewhere else. It’s waters that Inhaler haven’t tested out before, but they’ve definitely pulled it off with the catchy beats and hooks, proving that genre really isn’t a big deal for the Dublin rockers.
Almost in contrast to its previous tune, the collection reintroduces its lead single, Cheer Up Baby, a track that was played heavily on tour (back when it was permitted), and very quickly became a fan favourite, with some fans even creating fan accounts under the handle “release cheer up baby.” Just like the opener, its meaning has taken a whole new shape, resonating stronger than ever before with Inhaler’s swarm of adoring fans. It’s a track that whirls around a continuous guitar riff, designed to get stuck in your head and play on a loop, but in the best way possible. It’s hard to be annoyed by a song this positive and uplifting, especially in the current climate.
A Night On The Floor is a psychedelic track that was, like many of the other numbers boasted in the collection, debuted on tour, and was quickly taken under the wing of fans, with its more politically aware lyrics. Whilst on the topic of political tracks, My King Will Be Kind, the number clocking in at just under five minutes, is arguably the fan favourite, possibly because of the addictive guitar and chorus, and well, that line. It begs to be played live again, and whilst the live versions, that reside with their low quality audio in the YouTube algorithm, seemed to be impossible to be topped, the studio version has proved anyone that doubted Inhaler wrong, with its much clearer instrumentals, an added plunky string arrangement and a quick atmospheric “ohhh” break, before erupting back into the soaring chorus that leads into an electrifying guitar solo, still somehow holding onto the secret formula that makes the live arrangement just so exhilarating. I have to admit that I, too, have “lost my mind” (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist!), but over how incredible the melodies, vibrations and overall production on this song sound.
Track seven, When It Breaks, was a track recorded over the course of lockdown, specifically the part when we were all obsessed with banana bread and zoom quizzes for some reason, then released towards the end of the rollercoaster year, and in true Inhaler-style is so upbeat, it’d be rude to not get up and dance to it, just like May’s surprise release, Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House) and it’s incredibly thick, resonant bassline that gradually fades into the eerie, yet soul soothing echoes of Plastic House (it’s essentially a song in two halves, and whilst those pieces are quite the juxtaposition, they completely work, complimenting each other to some degree).
The final taster of the album before its eventual release, was catchy banger, Totally; a song that boasts an introduction that appears to interpolate both Britney Spears’s …Baby One More Time, and The 1975’s Chocolate, and leads into an unforgettable chorus, something that on paper shouldn’t work, but it really, really does. Maybe this is a supergroup in the making, who knows?
Strange Time To Be Alive is the unintentional interlude taken from a demo that never made the cut, and is a moment of calm before the storm of brash, guitar heavy closer, In My Sleep, which can only be described as a dichotomy of a title. It is completely evident that once gigs come round again, this is a refrain that will inevitably draw in the biggest mosh-pit of the set.
Inhaler are not the first guitar band, and they’re definitely not the last, but there’s something within their debut that feels so special and so refreshing upon listening, that you can’t help but spin the record again and again. After all, this is only the beginning for Inhaler, because they’re completely right: it won’t always be like this. Inhaler are only just getting started and they've got a whole lot more to give.