“Cuts and Bruises” Leaves a Mark on Music Charts


“Cuts & Bruises” debuted as number one on Ireland music charts. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Lillian Verdi, Contributing Writer

Since their first single was released in 2019, Inhaler has skyrocketed to the top of the UK and Irish charts. Inhaler’s sophomore album, “Cuts & Bruises,” released on Feb. 17, debuted at number one on the official Ireland music chart. Their debut album, “It Won’t Always Be Like This,” was the first from an Irish band in over a decade to top the UK music charts when it was released in the summer of 2021. Some may blame their rising success on nepotism, as their frontman, Elijah Hewson, is the son of Ireland’s most famous rock star, Bono. Their growing fanbase would strongly disagree — so would popular artists Harry Styles and Arctic Monkeys, as the young band will be opening for both later this year. 

Hewson and his bandmates Robert Keating, Josh Jenkinson and Ryan McMahon turn the struggles of love while on tour into songs perfect for casual listeners or long-time fans. While “It Won’t Always Be Like This” was an upbeat LP about the emotional  struggle of quarantine and relationships, “Cuts & Bruises” reveals the metaphorical beating life and those past relationships have taken on the each of the band members. 

With Hewson as the lead singer, Keating on bass, Jenkinson playing guitar and McMahon on the drums, the new album adds more depth to their indie-rock sound. Along with increasingly complex lyrics, a feeling of maturity shines throughout the 11-track record. Inhaler starts the album with “Just To Keep You Satisfied,” a slightly forgettable opener. In an interview with Apple Music, Hewson explained “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.” In my opinion, it had the opposite effect. Contrastingly, “Love Will Get You There” and “These Are The Days” are reminiscent of their past songs, with upbeat choruses and positive lyrics. “If You’re Gonna Break My Heart” adds a country sound to their otherwise indie-rock vibe. The slow ballad is just what you’d expect to hear played on a piano in a country-western saloon. “The Things I Do” is another prime example of Inhaler actively working to diversify their sound further but in a noticeably different way. It includes violin and piano, but the prominent drum beat makes it sound much more like rock than country. The remaining songs do little to engross listeners. Although each is unique in its own way, they don’t have the same “oomph” effect as the other tracks. 

If you’re looking for a record to dance around your room to, this probably isn’t the one. While a few of its songs are energetic, the variety of the tempos and melodies make the album well-rounded — so much so, I’d argue “Cuts & Bruises” is a no-skip album. “These Are The Days,” a personal favorite of mine, conveys the naivety of early adulthood. It has a similar sound to “When I’m With You,” one of Inhaler’s earliest songs. The only negative from the album is the feeling that most of its songs won’t be remembered or favored as much as their early singles. For example, “My Honest Face” will always be a favorite of mine, and none of the songs from this album were able to replace that  spot in my opinion. 

In short, this album was good, but not awe-inspiring. I have been listening to the album nonstop and haven’t gotten sick of it, so it definitely isn’t bad. The new diversification of their overall sound was a step in the right direction, but it felt somewhat less intriguing than their past works. I thoroughly enjoyed the mature vocals and varied guitar riffs, but adding a couple more lively songs would’ve made “Cuts & Bruises” a noticeably bigger staple in the world of indie-rock. Inhaler’s newest album will have a place on my playlist for a while, even if only half the songs make the cut.