At first listen, Inhaler are a delightful amalgamation of neat guitar and synth-infused pop riffs. The Irish outfit are rapidly commanding respect on the indie circuit and for good reason. With a famous dad on their side and—equally as important—well-known fans, it is clear that the four-piece are destined for the upper echelons of the musical hemisphere.
Formed in 2012 at St Andrews College in Blackrock, Dublin, it is clear that Inhaler isn’t just a short term vanity project. The four-piece, made up of Elijah Hewson, Robert Keating, Ryan McMahon and Josh Jenkinson, aren’t just unique in sound but they also have some unique parentage. As the chances are, you may have stumbled across the band given that Hewson’s father is U2 frontman, Bono. Talent, quite clearly, runs in the family but despite this familial link, the similarities between the father and son’s bands stop there.
Latest single ‘My Honest Face’ seems the perfect place to start for any new listener of Inhaler. In truth, it fits into two musical dimensions making good use of their guitar whilst provoking a true 80s-esque atmosphere. Its chorus is anthemic, Hewson’s voice especially is powerful and well suited to such a sound. From a musical perspective, the Dublin outfit follows the trends of Northern England. The region is currently experiencing a jangly-pop revival. From Blossoms to SPINN, Vistas to The Night Cafè, the ever exploding genre provokes a well-formed style of music. Inhaler have the potential to outlast them all.
Given the paradigms of the modern music industry, one can only assume that Inhaler are a marketers dream. Image-wise, they scream cool in effortless fashion. Whether it be on the Easternmost end of Los Angeles’ Melrose Avenue or the backstreets of Paris’ Montmartre, the four-piece certainly look the part. Combine this with an ever-growing back catalogue and touring commitments stretching halfway across the planet and you are met with a band on the verge of breaking through the metaphorical boundaries and into the mainstream.
It is hardly a secret that the modern music industry is defined by what sells. It is perhaps fair to assume then that ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ was written with this in mind. On the song, Inhaler make swift use of synths and effects pedals to create a track with many musical dimensions. Unlike many contemporaries, it is clear that their sound is well thought through, constructed and implemented rather than vomited. One can picture many hours slogging away at a specific lyric or chord progression. Close your eyes and picture your favourite cityscape in the distance, this track has the ability to re-define a person’s perception of a significant place in their life.
Famous fans come in the form of Noel Gallagher and Radio X’s Steve Smart. Speaking before a headline set of his own at June’s Isle of Wight Festival, the former proved himself a fan of the young Irish outfit. He reminisced about catching early practise sessions in a small garden shed, praising them as a mixture of “Echo & The Bunnymen and U2.” As compliments go, this one is notable if not a little surprising. Gallagher is famous for not supporting but spiting new musicians – Lewis Capaldi knows this only too well.
Tracks such as ‘Oklahoma’ prove musical depth, a far slower yet equally intriguing offering. Lyrically, it is one of their strongest. The acoustic number equally emphasises Hewson’s exceptional vocal talent. In contrast, debut single ’I Want You’ is far more upbeat. It also acts as an important reference point for a band perhaps exploring a punchier sound. Whilst catchy, it emphasises the band’s musical strength from the outset – perhaps not surprising given Bono’s critical ear for new music.
Relation to the Gallagher’s does not stop at Noel. His daughter Anais collaborated with the band recently, directing the music video for ‘My Honest Face.’ A collection of live shots are submerged with images of the band on their travels. It suggests that the mood in the camp is upbeat, borderline ecstatic. And why wouldn’t it be? It comes at a fruitful time for the band. The summer festival period has treated them well with recent outings at TRNSMT and The Great Escape and soon they will share the stage with The Strokes, Billie Eilish and The 1975 at Ireland’s Electric Picnic in September. It will no doubt be a spectacular homecoming festival debut.
You’d be forgiven for linking the band’s initial success with the profitable connections of Hewson’s famous father. The band even say so themselves. However, as the metaphorical merry-go-round of popular music still revolves frantically, there is an aura of expectation surrounding the four-piece. Typically, famous children often remain in the shadows of their parents. Given their worldwide success, the shadow of Bono and U2 is a large one.
Will Inhaler thrive with such pressure? Hewson’s modesty and rationality suggest so. With touring commitments growing and a big-money deal with Polydor Records under their belts, Inhaler are no doubt destined to the top.
By Charlie Barnes