Album of the Week: Cuts & Bruises – Inhaler

Inhaler pose head of the release of their second album, Cuts & Bruises Inhaler via Lewis Evans

By Evie Shields (she/her)

On February 17th, Irish indie rockers Inhaler (Elijah Hewson, Josh Jenkinson, Robert Keating and Ryan McMahon) released their sophomore album, Cuts & Bruises.

Famously, the second album is always harder than the first, so I had no idea what to expect. With their debut, It Won’t Always Be Like This (IWABLT) succeeding as well as it did – the fastest-selling debut album this century – Inhaler’s second full-length release Cuts & Bruises, was certainly highly anticipated.

Inhaler has an intensely loyal fanbase, many of whom bought multiple copies of the album to support the band and help them chart (I have six copies of Cuts & Bruises sitting on my shelf as I write this). On Instagram, the band thanked fans who have ‘bought a record once, twice or more.

The album’s opening track, ‘Just to Keep you Satisfied’, introduces us to a world entirely different to the world that birthed IWABLT. The band have matured with the making of this record, and it shows.

Frontman Elijah Hewson is famously the son of U2’S Bono, but Inhaler is not U2’s child. Naturally, Elijah’s voice has often been compared to that of his father’s, but the band are continuing to grow and develop their own distinct style. One of the album’s strongest tracks is track 6, ‘Perfect Storm’, which shows the growth of the band’s lyrics, talent, and confidence.

Previously unreleased fan favourite, ‘Dublin in Ecstasy’, has finally been given to us on Cuts & Bruises, and the studio version was well worth the wait. Though I am probably biased, I believe my opinion is justified – there is a reason this song was so highly anticipated. Most albums have at least one skip, and while Cuts & Bruises lacks this, track five, ‘If You’re Gonna Break My Heart’, is the album’s weakest link, foregoing the originality we hear in the rest of the album.  

‘Valentine’ is a beautiful addition to the album and a strong favourite, the beginning reminding many of a softer version of Fontaines D.C’s ‘A Lucid Dream’. All four members of the band shine like stars on this track.

Most of the album is guitar-based indie rock/pop but track 10, ‘The Things I Do’, shows that Inhaler is no one-trick pony and hints at an extremely promising road ahead for the Dublin band. The drummer, McMahon, sounds fantastic on what is probably the most fun song on the project.

The album’s final song, ‘Now You Got Me’, is a powerful, anthemic closing number that will be fantastic live. A lot of the album sounds perfectly crafted for a live audience, and Inhaler is clearly well-aware and in tune with what their fanbase wants to hear.

As a young band of only 22 and 23 years old, this sophomore project is unbelievably strong and grants Inhaler a secure place in the current indie scene, alongside the likes of Sam Fender, The 1975 and Blossoms.

Inhaler will be spending the better part of 2023 touring Cuts & Bruises, and though there is no Scottish headline date yet – they will be at TRNSMT Festival in July.

Inhaler released their second album, Cuts & Bruises, on Polydor Records on February 17th, 2023 – check it out here.