If you have yet to be introduced, let me have the pleasure of sharing your new favorite Irish rock band with you. Trust me, it’s much less embarrassing to say you found out about a band from an article than having to admit you discovered it through your dad (it really grinds my gears that I wasn’t the one to show him, but we’ll move past that).
Inhaler was initially formed in 2012 in Dublin, Ireland, though the members didn’t decide on the name until 2015. The rock group is made up of four members: Robert Keating (bassist), Josh Jenkinson (guitarist), Ryan McMahon (drummer) and Elijah Hewson (guitarist and lead vocalist). Just a little fun fact, the band name originated because Elijah actually had really bad asthma and in an effort to make fun of the band, their peers began calling them “the Inhalers.”
Still relatively fresh on the scene in 2023, the band just recently released their second studio album this past February and are currently performing across North America for the album’s tour. While their first album proved to be a very successful debut, I can definitely say that you can hear a change in maturity as the band begins to settle into their own sound and develops a core essence to their musicality.
“It Won’t Always Be Like This” is absolutely worth the listen as your official introduction to the band. The debut album encapsulates a rock-feel that very few of the young bands I’ve heard emerge recently have been able to achieve. The instrumentation is just as prominent and crucial to their songs as the lyrics and vocals are. This first album offers a dynamic range of rock melodies rising and falling in intensity, all while still maintaining a very cohesive sound from track one through the outro. It is by no means the band’s best work, but serves as a rather impressive jumping off point for their future of studio records.
Fast forward just about a year and a half from the debut release, Inhaler drops their second album, with the title “Cuts & Bruises.” Coming off the success of their first record and having begun to establish their presence in the bombastic music industry, the four Irishmen continue to please their audience with 11 new songs in 2023. This album definitely notes a change for the band, one that’s taking place quite early on and bodes excitement for their future. There is still a core of essential rock expressed through the “Cuts & Bruises” track list, but this line up adopts a far more dreamy essence that softly carries the album from start to finish. There’s something about this album that seems to represent the juxtaposition of calmness and tension that reveals itself during our early 20s.
Tracks on their sophomore album like the opener, “Just to Keep You Satisfied” and (my personal favorite) “The Things I Do” seem to illustrate the experimentation the band is trying to explore as they expand their discography. Their craft is clearly developing in front of their audience, through their writing, playing and overall production.
After I got to see Inhaler perform live this past March in Detroit, Michigan, I felt like I had been fully immersed in the space they intended to craft with their sound. There’s something unique about watching a band play live, especially when their studio recordings are already giving you a taste of what exactly that experience could be like. Though they’re not doing much outside of playing their instruments and singing their parts on stage, it’s enough to let those things speak for themselves. This band’s music doesn’t need to be accompanied by spectacular theatrics because it already showcases itself as being designed meticulously enough to craft an entire space and experience on its own without borrowing energy, power or excitement from outside distractions.
Another part of the show that I took note of was the demographics in the audience. Of course, there were late-teens and early-20-somethings taking up most of the space at the front of the crowd, but as I looked around and even noticed in line, there were plenty of other adults my parents’ ages there for the show. Part of this could definitely be because Elijah does happen to be the son of Bono (frontman of the famous Irish rock band U2), but liking the band enough to buy a ticket, pay for city parking and then to show up at a show starting at 9:00pm when you’re 55 is saying something.
Needless to say, if you haven’t taken it upon yourself to press play on any Inhaler track yet, this is your sign to do so. Start with “It Won’t Always Be Like This” and transition into “Cuts & Bruises” or vice versa, whichever speaks to you, but I promise it’ll be worth your time. If you don’t have a favorite Irish rock band just yet, you’re about to.