Inhaler review, It Won’t Always Be Like This: U2 comparisons are unavoidable on Dublin band’s debut

Many of Inhaler’s contemporaries would rather die than admit they covet commercial success, but Inhaler seem intent on reaching the masses

Roisin O'Connor@Roisin_OConnor
Thursday 08 July 2021 18:34
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<p>Irish band Inhaler</p>

Irish band Inhaler

How do you let people know your dad’s Bono without saying he’s Bono? Start a band that sounds exactly like U2, that’s how.

Frontman Elijah Hewson has so far been reluctant (or downright refused) to discuss his famous father in interviews. Yet there’s no escaping the blatant influences on Dublin band Inhaler’s debut, It Won’t Always Be Like This. His adenoidal tenor breaks into a soaring cry on the chorus of the title track, egged on by pop synths, squalling guitars, a rumbling bass line and bruised percussion. If you think they seem tailor-made for huge crowds, it’s probably to do with the layered echo effects that make it sound as though Hewson’s voice is ricocheting around a 60,000-capacity stadium. Familiar, right?

It’s by no means a bad thing. Many of Inhaler’s contemporaries would rather die than admit they covet commercial success, but Inhaler seem intent on reaching the masses. To do that, they’re emulating the killer combo of their forebears: Oasis-style anthems, Stone Roses-indebted guitar tones and juddery, New Order-influenced beats (“Who’s Your Money On” pays cheeky tribute to “Blue Monday”). Hewson’s songwriting is definitely up to snuff, although occasionally lapses into cliches – “Play me like a record, baby” – or, on “My King Will Be Kind”, unfiltered bitterness: “I f****** hate that bitch.”

It’s easy for critics and fellow artists to resent a band like Inhaler, with their famous parents, near-instant signing to a major label, and early tours supporting Noel Gallagher. But beneath the on-sleeve influences are poignant themes of ennui, anxiety and yearning. Inhaler want to be adored. With a debut like this, they probably will be.

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