Cuts & Bruises

Cuts & Bruises

Where Inhaler’s 2021 debut, It Won’t Always Be Like This, was a gloriously defiant document of what it meant to be a band making your breakthrough steps during a global pandemic—with all the hope and doubt that came with it—the Dublin indie-rockers celebrate being freed into the wild on this follow-up. It’s an album snapshotting different facets of the Inhaler experience. “We were on tour for a year and that naturally informed the album, being together,” bassist Robert Keating tells Apple Music. The record also dramatically expands the sonic template the quartet set out on It Won’t Always Be Like This. The choruses are bigger and bolder, the playing more confident; the grooves adopt the sort of swagger you get from seeing your music connect on a huge scale. “There’s an emotion that carries through this record,” lead vocalist Eli Hewson tells Apple Music. “It was easy to write about what was going on inside Inhaler because we were with each other all the time.” There’s also a striking minimalism to the tracks. “We believed these songs were better, so we thought they needed less information,” says drummer Ryan McMahon. “We wanted everything to feel like they could breathe a bit more.” Inspired by US tours and the storytelling approach of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, this is Inhaler broadening the scope of their music. The band, completed by guitarist Josh Jenkinson, talks us through it, track by track. “Just to Keep You Satisfied” Robert Keating: “I think we always said, ‘This was the first song written for this new album, might as well open with it.’ Lyrically, it sets that scene, early in the morning, first day of the week. It doesn’t get much more fresh with the sense of starting completely over again.” Eli Hewson: “We were mindful that the first track on the first album was such a big-sounding album opener, whereas this one’s a little bit more minimal. It’s a bit more intriguing; it pulls you in.” “Love Will Get You There” Josh Jenkinson: “The demo for this one was a lot darker.” EH: “We didn’t have a chorus, so we didn’t know if it was going to make it. Then the chorus came and it became really positive and we decided that it was going to be one of the singles. I think we were also excited by that Northern soul beat, that rhythm felt very fresh for us, because we’re very used to doing a lot of straight, fast indie beats. It made us feel like we were moving in the right direction.” “So Far So Good” Ryan McMahon: “This was the last track written for the album. It was after the Arctic Monkeys tour that we did in August, and I went over to Eli’s house one day and he played me the demo for it and I thought it was really good and really exciting. We were looking for another song to pull the whole album together, and I think it being written so late in the process, there was a spontaneity about it. We were influenced by being on tour and going out and seeing different bands at festivals.” “These Are the Days” JJ: “None of us were actually too excited about this when it first came around because it wasn’t fully formed.” EH: “Then we realized we needed something uptempo. The thing with this song is that it felt like a gateway into the second album for us, a transition song. It feels like it could fit on the first album, but it does have a different sound.” “If You’re Gonna Break My Heart” EH: “This is very influenced by the American music that we were listening to at the time. It’s our way of musically paying homage to America and being on tour there. It feels like an American show-band-type song, playing it in a theater or something like that. It was probably the one we had the fewest issues making because it’s got that live-band feel to it.” “Perfect Storm” RK: “The music for this one was pretty much written and finished on the spot. I think we started playing all the same things at the exact same time without playing them before, which was quite funny. That happens every once in 50 jams that we do. We did it in the studio and then it snowballed there. Eli did some real good lyrics. It feels like a story, this song, it feels like it goes on a journey.” “Dublin in Ecstasy” RM: “This the oldest song on the record and we thought that it went nicely with us sounding more like a band than the first one. We used to play this song live when we were about 17 or 18. Our really early fans gravitated towards it, and we were never really too sure why, but if we thought that we sounded more like a band on this record than the first, it just made sense to just try and go back to that place.” EH: “And because the album is about being in a band, it felt right to put a tune that we had played so much in our early days on the record. It felt like a bit nostalgic for us.” “When I Have Her on My Mind” RK: “The music for this was pretty much written during sound checks when we were on tour in America. We were listening to Deftones before we jammed this one. Musically there’s a bit of a nostalgia in it because that was one of our favorite tours that we’ve ever done, it took us to all these different territories that we’d never been to before.” “Valentine” RM: “You can take a guess what day of the year this one was written…” RK: “Yeah, we wrote this one on Valentine’s Day, a genius marketing move from us. Shows how our big brains were that day: ‘We’ll just call it “Valentine.”’ Sonically we found a really nice place with this one. It sounds really fresh; it reminds me of so many different bands while also not really sounding like anyone—which I always think is a good sign.” “The Things I Do” EH: “I remember doing the chords for this the same time as ‘Just to Keep You Satisfied’ and sending it to Josh, being like, ‘Here, would you put a beat over this?’ No joke, literally five minutes later he comes back with that beat over it. We took it into the live room and started playing it, and it snowballed from there. We got Martin Slattery, who’s amazing and used to play in Black Grape and is a master of the keys, to play piano on it.” RM: “He was our Billy Preston for this record. He inspired us in the room. We had to pull up our socks playing with someone who wasn’t us.” EH: “Yeah, it is like that bit in Get Back where Billy Preston comes in and they all just go, ‘Oh shit.’” “Now You Got Me” RM: “We were doing a jam on this other song that didn’t make the record and it just wasn’t going anywhere. Out of frustration, we were going to call it an early night, and then Rob turned on his pedal and started playing this riff out of nowhere.” EH: “Within an hour and a half, the whole structure and the chorus was there. You’ve gotta keep your net out for these songs, because they can just come out of nowhere. You don’t really write them, they write themselves.” RK: “With the first album we were still learning our craft, doing hundreds of takes sometimes because we just weren’t able to play as well as we could. This time, because we’ve done so many gigs, it’s like being able to ride a bike finally. It just felt right, and that definitely influenced our music.” JJ: “Although I never want to make a second album ever again.” EH: “Which is completely fair enough.”

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