Music can change lives and no one knows it better than the people who grow up around the biggest rock bands in the world.
Take Inhaler for example, fronted by lead singer and guitarist Elijah Hewson, (yes, the son of Paul Hewson, or U2's Bono to you and me) alongside guitarist Josh Jenkinson, bass player Robert Keating, and drummer Ryan McMahon they've been on a quiet but steady rise that's all their own (they will play the Hammerstein Ballroom here in New York on St. Patrick’s Day.)
Their latest album "Cuts & Bruises" is full of the joy of a band finding its vibe and its voice, which in my book is worth the price of admission alone.
Referencing the best of 80's indie alternative pop and sounds of the current moment, it's a heady serve of hand-on-heart passion and a reminder that these kids are serious about what they love.
It's fashionable to hate on so-called nepo babies (short for nepotism) at the moment and Elijah's actress sister Eve (star of the glorious breakout Apple TV+ hit "Bad Sisters") certainly has had some online fun lately snarking at its surprising limitations.
But your cynicism will be disarmed by the sheer sincerity of the love to be found between the lines here and in all the raised harmonics of this lovely, melancholic, and surprisingly melodic album.
There's a deep yearning evident on every track, especially in the best tracks, that marks them out as Irish as a DNA sample might. Sometimes the son sounds very like the father, but that's okay and in fact, if you think about it, it's really rather beautiful. A torch is always being passed in the relay race between generations and on this album, it's a lit flame.
This is an album that's very obviously in search of something, an explanation, a benediction, a moment of transcendence, and very likely a cure. You have to admire the ambition because it doesn't often happen in our new 'I messed up but I meant to do it' age.
Take "If You're Gonna Break My Heart," a simple on the surface lyric that just opens and opens. Inhaler songs submit themselves nakedly to every vicissitude of love with an openness and youthful lack of cynicism that quietly opens the door to greatness.
“If you're gonna break my heart smash it to pieces,” sings Hewson, “Cause I'm not gonna need it as much as I do right now right now...” By refusing to play it cool, to look hardened by experience, these songs bypass all the usual romantic tripwires, including your own.
The album debuted at number one in the Irish charts and number two (behind Pink) in the UK ones because they speak directly to their younger audience and here's a hint, they're unlikely to own U2 records.
"Cuts & Bruises" is the follow-up to the band's pandemic released debut album "It Won’t Always Be Like This" which also debuted at number one on both the UK and Irish official charts.
Following a run of 2022 festival dates, including their first Glastonbury performance, the band will support Harry Styles at Slane Castle this summer (talk about a generational shift) and Sam Fender at St James Park in London. What this means is that they're now well on the way to being headliners on their own.
Hammerstein Ballroom is a legendary venue, of course. Recall that in 2006 David Bowie gave his final public performance there, so it's hallowed hall for any serious band and that's probably why Inhaler has chosen it to launch their new album tour in the US.
Irish strongholds are a big part of the tour so Boston, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia are on the list, but so too are Toronto, Minneapolis, Nashville and San Francisco, and LA. Clearly this is a band with a promotion plan.
It helps that the material is so good. Stepping out from under famous shadows is never easy, but few bands have made it look as easy as this. Inhaler has their own sound and story and I predict it'll take them far, but in the end it's their own voices that will lift them - and you – up.
Inhaler will play at the Hammerstein Ballroom on March 17. For tickets, visit Inhaler.band.