Inhaler – ‘Cuts & Bruises’ Review

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The mere fact that I have not stopped listening to Inhaler’s sophomore album Cuts and Bruises since its release on February 17, must entice you into listening to this once in a generation masterpiece.

The four-piece band stemming from Dublin are still reeling from the release of their debut album It Won’t Always Be Like This, which landed them a no.1 album and the first glimmer of success which their teenage selves only dreamed of.

On the new record, the band continues on their trademark indie-rock sound with psychedelic undertones, charismatic guitar instrumentals and the distinct, hoarse vocals of frontman Elijah Hewson.

Produced yet again by Antony Genn, the album is guitar-heavy with elements of piano chords, with a noticeable summoning of their 80’s muses the Stone Roses and Joy division, will also drawing on influences such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen from their time touring America.

The 11-track record is short, with a run-time of 45 minutes, but that does not take away from its brilliance.

The opening track ‘Just To Keep You Satisfied’ draws you into what’s to come straight away, with the lyrics “It was early in the morning / the first day of the week” marking a fresh start.

The track kickstarted the new album era, with Hewson presenting it to the rest of the band a mere day after they had put the first album to rest in November 2020.

Speaking to farout magazine, Drummer Ryan McMahon highlighted that “all we could do was keep writing songs because there were no gigs.”

Track two provides us with ‘Love Will Get You There’, the second single from the album, released in October 2022.

The single is clearly 80s infused, with a distinct baseline and lyrics hailing that love can solve anything.

‘So Far So Good’, the last track written for the album, is probably the most indie-pop song on the album, but still retains the rock elements they will always be known for.

The lead single for the album, ‘These Are The Days’, was the perfect song to return with after the success of their first album.

It reminds you of the best times of your life and is clearly a song that will be played for hundreds of gigs and festivals to come.

Inhaler performing at NX Newcastle, February 17 2022. Image Credit: Georgia Dalgarno

If Your Gonna Break My Heart’ is simultaneously pop and Rock n’ Roll, and is the new heartbreak anthem you didn’t know you needed. But who knew they could create such a feel-good song about such a gut-wrenching experience?

The slow-ballad ‘Perfect Storm’ may be the best song in terms of lyricism, “Is everything we have as good as gone? / Lyin’ in the wreck of your perfect storm”.

Discussing the track, bassist Robert Keating exclaims, “Eli did some real good lyrics. It feels like a story, this song, it feels like it goes on a journey”.

The band then proceeds to finally deliver the earliest of fans a cult classic, ‘Dublin in Ecstasy’.

The song was first played when they were about 17-18, falling in and out of love with the track over the years, leaving them in turmoil in whether or not to ever resurrect it.

The decision to put it on the sophomore record came from them trying to sound more like a band the second time around, and so returning to that sense of nostalgia solidified their decision.

The song’s guitar rhythms, intoxicating instrumentals and alluring lyricism seriously reflect the title, the band has never sounded more like themselves.

‘When I Have Her On My Mind’ clearly contains elements of 80s American rock such as Bruce Springsteen, whilst still retaining a clear psychedelic and pop undertone.

As you probably guessed, ‘Valentine’ was written on Valentine’s day, and is evidently a love song.

The song feels fresh but still detains a sombre sentiment, as Hewson pleads with his lover to be his Valentine.

Despite being the final two songs for the record; ‘The Things I Do’ and ‘Now You Got Me’, they are arguably what makes the entirety so perfect.

‘The Things I Do’ is unutterably captivating, with the intoxicating piano melody, Hewson’s strong voice throughout and the odd but unforgettable background vocals.

the anthemic end to the album comes from ‘Now You Got Me’, as the band discusses the act of commitment through a pure rock ballad.

Inhaler may have formed during their time in high school, but their journey through the present-day music industry is only beginning.

Just when you think you could never find a more perfectly curated album after their first release, they once again outdo themselves.

Inhaler’s Cuts & Bruises album will certainly find itself a place as a modern classic in the indie rock genre.

It’s authentic, beautifully written and anyone could find themselves lost within one of the impeccably crafted songs.

Featured Image Credit: @Inhalerdublin / Instagram

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BA(Hons) International Politics and Languages
Politics and Music journalist

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