Inhaler review, Cuts & Bruises: Irish indie rockers stick to the formula with stadium songs for the masses

There’s no denying Inhaler’s appeal on their second offering ‘Cuts & Bruises’, but some songs don’t quite scratch that itch

Megan Graye
Thursday 16 February 2023 17:05 GMT
<p>Irish band Inhaler are back with album number two </p>

Irish band Inhaler are back with album number two

In a time when most bands are wary of being boxed into a genre, Inhaler are unapologetically indie rock. The Irish four-piece make music that is uncomplicated, hooky and very listenable – if a little commercial. There’s Elijah Hewson’s accomplished vocals, that driving beat, those glimmering guitars and the romantic lyricism. Not for nothing did Inhaler score their first number one with their debut album two years ago.

Since then, their reality has changed and so too has the subject of their songs. Now Inhaler are on record navigating success. Lyrically, their music has become less relatable to their audience – but in fairness, the clue was in the title of It Won’t Always Be Like This. Their follow-up record Cuts & Bruises may not offer anything new to music, but there’s no denying its appeal.

“Just to Keep You Satisfied” is befitting of its name and offers a promising start with its silky synths, singalong melodies, and huge guitar drops. The track – and many others on the album – seem custom-made for stadiums, leaning into that Sam Fender Springsteen-inspired sound. (It’s apt considering Inhaler will open for Fender this summer.) While fuzzy riffs shine through Cuts & Bruises, some of the early songs fall a little flat. They never quite scratch that itch. But a later gear shift in “These Are The Days” brings back that propulsive force.

“If You’re Going To Break My Heart” takes the pace down a notch. The song offers warmth and light, despite its lyrical invitation into darkness. It feels like a breakthrough moment for the band; over the hill and out of that inevitable second album slog.

Intricate picking and reflective rhythms build depth on the mid-tempo “Valentine”, making way for a beguiling acoustic guitar. The track is more melancholy and left-field than the rest: it’s the most endearing entry in an album that has its moments but doesn’t quite leave a mark.

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