It Won’t Always Be Like This
2021 • ALTERNATIVE/ROCK • POLYDOR
The Dublin band’s debut album is generic, dull, and lacks an edge. But at least they manage to deliver a few catchy songs.
In an interview with Apple Music, Inhaler drummer Ryan McMahon said the title track from the Dublin band’s debut album can be interpreted in a variety of ways. According to him, some people look to the album’s title line, “It won’t always be like this,” as a relief, bearing in mind that everything will get better, or even fearful of the possibility that everything will get worse. “It’s doing what songs should do — have a different meaning for a different person, depending on whatever point they’re at in their life,” he said. However, although in the band members’ minds their debut album is something powerful and open to interpretation, in practice, It Won’t Always Be Like This sounds slow and boring and lacks personality.
It’s relatively common when a certain aesthetic trend becomes popular, several bands emerge working their art on top of it. And this happened strongly in the last decade with an accelerated popularization of alternative genres because of streaming services. However, over time, these certain sounds end up running out and It Won’t Always Be Like This seems to be an unfortunate victim of this phenomenon. The record comes with alternative beats that mix with pop and rock, but despite not being something necessarily bad, it is tiring and lackluster. That’s because the album came out after bands like The 1975 and The Neighbourhood had squeezed that sound to the max. In this way, the album is tiring, dull, and without anything interesting, with tracks that last longer than they should and lyrics that often seem just loose and unfinished ideas.
Much of It Won’t Always Be Like This is just… mediocre. It’s that same sound we’ve heard for the last few years. While it’s not bad or poorly produced, so to speak, it’s something that doesn’t quite have a certain impact on you. The best example of this is perhaps “Slide Out the Window,” which sounds totally flat, indifferent, and unsalted. Meanwhile, “My Honest Face” presents a good premise but misses on cringe-worthy lines (“I could be Elvis on a Tuesday night/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, alright” and “Baby, I’ll take you to an honest place/Darling, I just can’t find my honest face, my honest face.”) and a very generic sound. Or, look at “Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House),” which is the most experimental track on the record but has no business being more than six minutes long — they can’t keep you entertained for that long.
Fortunately, there are even some good cuts here. The album’s opener features great vocals by Eli Hewson, which are worked as if they were being played out in a huge arena. “Cheer Up Baby,” the lead single from the album, features synth passages farther out of the curve and some really good, catchy lyrics written by the band for their fans. “All you do/cheer up baby/You’re not on your own,” he sings. Meanwhile, “When It Breaks” has a trend towards the 1980s, and “Totally” is the most pop song on the record, being a very catchy and memorable song, mainly because of the hook. And, in a way, the whole record is enjoyable, you just can’t find something very special or different about it. In other words, it’s the answer if you have too basic a taste and don’t want something that demands too much of you.
However, the saddest thing about the record is how you can feel that they have a certain ambition and are indeed one of the most promising bands for years to come, but they can’t develop that because they seem stuck to what is “right and safe.” Look at “A Night on the Floor,” where the band members reveal to have emerged from “all that kind of crazy psychedelic stuff,” but the most it can deliver is a few synth remixes and strings that manage to deliver only a few little bit more striking solos. “My King Will Be Kind,” on the other hand, tells the story from an incel’s perspective. The beginning of the lyrics is very good, but soon they seem to give up these verses that tell the story in detail and move into short, tight sentences. Or “Strange Time To Be Alive,” which could have been a great track, but remained just a painful draft. Finally, the final track, it’s just forgettable, I don’t have anything to say about it… I think. All I can say is that these kids have potential and can do great things. I just hope they will.