In Rotation: It Won’t Always Be Like This by Inhaler

In Rotation: It Wont Always Be Like This by Inhaler

My previous two album reviews, which were both written prior to the release of Spotify Wrapped, funnily enough happened to be by my top 2 most listened to artists of 2023 (Taylor Swift at #1 and The 1975 at #2). I thought that I’d continue the chain up until 2024 and introduce you all to my #3 most listened to artist of 2023, Inhaler. Inhaler is a somewhat underground, Irish rock and pop-rock band based in Dublin. Their lead vocalist, Elijah Hewson, also just so happens to be the son of Bono, frontman of the supergroup U2. Inhaler’s debut album, It Won’t Always Be Like This is full of fun and upbeat tracks that really just make you want to start dancing. I didn’t begin listening to them until 2022, a year after the album was released, but I’m extremely glad I did. Seeing them live in March of 2023 was probably one of the, if not the, most fun experiences I’ve ever had. All of their music is so enjoyable and it’s really hard not to want to bust a move. This band’s love and dedication to writing, producing, and performing music is extremely evident, even in their very first album. So, let’s get into the breakdown–


It Won’t Always Be Like This

My Honest Face

Slide Out The Window

Cheer Up Baby

A Night On The Floor

My King Will Be Kind

When It Breaks

Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House)


Strange Time To Be Alive

In My Sleep



1. It Won’t Always Be Like This 

Synopsis– The titular track, which is the final song that the band plays at each of their shows, is one that is fun and extremely danceable. It allows itself to kind of change its meaning based on who is listening to it and really is a bang to start off the album. It follows the speaker and the subject’s relationship, where the speaker realizes that it won’t last forever, that “it won’t always be like this,” and that realization allows him to want to cherish every moment and live in the now–rather than dwelling on what is to come. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“Girl, you know it ain’t cool 

Walking ’round and ’round in circles after you 

Broken and bruised 

Oh, what else can I do?” (Verse 2)

It’s obvious that he is somewhat chasing this girl, and she knows it. He doesn’t want to show too much affection but he can’t help it, and it’s kind of annoying that she sees what he’s doing but won’t acknowledge it. It’s quite evident that he’s aware that this relationship won’t last but he’d feel better if she actually played into it for the time that they have instead of acting unnoticing of what he’s doing. But, “what else can he do?”

“It won’t always be like this” (Chorus)

In the context of the track, they’re most likely saying that this relationship, or lack thereof, is not going to last forever. It’s something that inevitably is going to fade and in that case, they should enjoy the moment. Diving further into the meaning of the lyric, it could symbolize two completely different things. In one case, it could signify a pain and longing that “it won’t always be like this.” It could show that they want this moment or time in their life to last forever and it’s upsetting thinking that it in fact, won’t always be like this. On the other hand, though, it could be in a hopeful and excited tone, such as “thank God that ‘it won’t always be like this.'” They could be searching for something further and be optimistic that change will come and things won’t always remain the same as they’ve always been.

Inhaler’s Commentary– Ryan McMahon, the band’s drummer, stated that the song “was the first song [they] wrote together.” He followed it by saying, “What’s been interesting is how the title is being interpreted by different people. We can see in comment sections that there’s people going ‘Yes! It won’t always be like this. They’re dead right.’ And then other people are like, ‘It won’t always be like this? Yeah, it could get a lot worse, lads.’ 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.” (via Apple Music) 

2. My Honest Face 

Synopsis– This song deals with the speaker’s “fear” of performing, more so of being perceived by fans and the public. He knows that playing shows and being up on stage is something that he loves and wants to do for as long as possible, but he can’t help but deal with immense nerves and fright when he goes to do so. It’s easier for him to just make music, another aspect of his work that he loves, because he is able to do so in his own solitary confinement. However, he puts this all past him because putting on concerts is something he truly admires and enjoys doing, he just wishes the fear didn’t have to come with it every time. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“I could be Elvis on a Tuesday night 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, alright 

I can look good in a certain light 

So don’t look too close at me tonight” (Verse 1)

The speaker has a love of performing and being up on stage, while he may not have a certain false persona to him, he can act like and channel performers that are familiar to us (Elvis, for example). With this also comes a certain fear, not exactly stage fright, but something within that realm. He knows that this is what he loves and what he enjoys doing most, but the crowd, the lights, and the extravagant noise can be extremely overwhelming in his situation. By saying “don’t look too close at me tonight,” he is hoping that people don’t read too much into him and don’t want them to be able to address his flaws now that they’re seeing him standing before them.

“I-I-I wanna be 

Up-up-up on TV, yeah 

K-k-k killing fear” (Bridge)

He wants to be in the spotlight, he wants people to see him and for himself to be the center of TV, but in this moment, it comes with great difficulty. The use of “stuttering” at the beginning of each line can be representative of the nerves that are spreading through his body, maybe just in general, or when he’s about to step onto stage or go for an interview. This is the life he’s chosen and that he wants to live, but it’s not one that’s easy. He’s overcome by so much fright that it seems almost impossible. It’s his dream to be able to just do what comes with his job–performing and being on screen–while also being able to not be dragged down by his own fear.

Inhaler’s Commentary– Frontman, Elijah (Eli) Hewson, says about the song, “It fits into the theme of getting lost and finding yourself again, because it was all about finding out what you wanted to say onstage and what kind of people we wanted to be as performers, and that first experience getting up there and that kind of shock. So it’s an important part of the story of the album.” (via Apple Music) 

3. Slide Out The Window 

Synopsis– This track follows the want of the speaker for this fading relationship to finally be over and done with. It is obvious to both partners that it is at the very end of its run, but neither of them want it to end just yet. He is hoping that they’ll take the bullet and just end it where it is. He feels a disconnect from not only his partner, but the relationship as a whole, and knows that there’s a growing distance and detachment between the two. He’d love for it to continue, but he knows that it’s run its course and all that it will do now is hurt them. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“Oh I live with the world

Like you would with an ex

I’m checking in

Where she’s checking out next” (Verse 1)

He states it so clearly that listeners don’t really have to read into or interpret the meaning too harshly. He says that he “lives with the world how one would with an ex.” It’s plain and simple, he’s living with and through heartbreak and experiencing emotional turmoil because of the “ex.” He’s watching what she’s doing and keeping track of her movements because he still harbors this love for her. He’s going to the places that she spends or has spent her time, knowing that he won’t see her and there will be no interaction, but just so he can get any kind of feeling of her being there with him.

“Like the morning

Just slide out the window

‘Til the dawning

Just slide out the window” (Chorus)

As the morning goes by it slides in and out the window, and he’s hoping for his feelings and emotions to do the same. He doesn’t want to relish in the heartbreak that he’s been caused by this girl so he’s wishing it away, “like the morning…’til the dawning.” As the times change and the phases of the day “slide out the window,” he is waiting for the sadness and lonesomeness that he feels to go with it.

Inhaler’s Commentary– When writing the song, Ryan said, “That was one of the first lockdown tracks to really happen. Sonically and rhythmically, it’s quite left-field from anything that anyone will have heard from us before. I remember hearing that beat in the song that someone had done on Logic: I thought, ‘Oh no, this is going to be a nightmare. I have to go away and learn this now.’” Eli added, “It was written in the spring, and it reminds me of being in my bed, staring out the window over lockdown, just daydreaming and wishing that we were somewhere else.” (via Apple Music)

4. Cheer Up Baby 

Synopsis– This is a track that the band has been playing live at their shows for a while prior to it being released. It has instantly become and remained a fan favorite that is shared not only between people who love the band, but also the members of the band themselves. This song is themed around hardships and mental health issues, it is framed to try and encourage the speaker as well as the audience who are going to be listening to it to start feeling better and remind them that things will get better and there isn’t much to worry about. It really falls under the topic of the message “it won’t always be like this,” which the entire album encapsulates in one way or another. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“Cheer up baby

You’re not on your own

Sinking like a stone” (Chorus)

The subject is telling the speaker that they aren’t alone, that although they aren’t feeling their best at this moment, it’s just a stepping stone in their journey and they have people behind them supporting and rooting for them. To “sink like a stone,” means to sink very quickly and suddenly. The sadness that is felt by the speaker is something that came on seemingly out of nowhere, but the subject is trying to remind them that it can go away just as swiftly as it came, as long as they work towards it. Cheering up out of one’s own free will isn’t the easiest thing to do, but the more you try, the easier it’ll become.

“And I lie in my bed

Under the covers

Never ever to be discovered

Oh and you walk into my room

To offer me a better view” (Verse 2)

The speaker is stuck in this rot, they feel constantly upset and unmotivated and all they want to do is just stay in their room, not having to face the world. The subject, on the other hand, wants to do whatever they can to make the speaker feel better. They come to the speaker to take them out of this feeling and bring them somewhere to make them feel better. The speaker knows that it probably won’t work because they obviously know their feelings and emotions better than the subject, but they won’t refuse in case it really does do something to cheer them up.

Inhaler’s Commentary– Eli says, “We were in the studio, kind of wondering, ‘…”Cheer Up Baby”, are we going to be able to say that? Are people going to be annoyed at us for saying it in a time like this?’ But it just made sense. Our fans are in love with that song. We’re in love with it. And every time we play it, they sing at the top of their lungs. So it really was a big moment for not just us but our fans, I think, to get their hands on that one.” (via Apple Music). He also mentioned, “It’s always been a cornerstone song for us and our fans are always talking about it. It’s a love letter to our fans and that’s why we wanted to choose it to open up the album. Lyrically, a lot of young people in these times are dealing with mental health issues and they can get stuck in their own heads. I think that’s what this song is, it’s loosely based on a conversation between two people and a lyric that goes ‘when I think of all the things I didn’t do, I can’t help but blame it on you.'” (via NME)

5. A Night On The Floor 

Synopsis– This song is representative of all of the craziness that had been happening in the U.S. at the time that it was written. The band has stated that they love the States and that they are constantly honored to be able to tour there and explore all it has to offer on their down time, but are also being struck with seeing all of the terrible things that are happening (through the news and social media) that they don’t encounter firsthand. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

All you teachers

Under your desks

I can’t believe they haven’t

Cleaned up that mess (Pre-Chorus 2)

These lines are a direct reference to the abundance of school shootings seen in the United States constantly. The lines depict the scene of teachers hiding under their desks in these instances, and the speaker’s frustration with the fact that this is something that is always occurring. Why hasn’t there been anything done to regulate, or I don’t know, maybe even put an end to these awful mass killings. It’s completely unfair and disgusting that this is something that children, parents, and teachers all have to worry about when going to a school. It is horrifying to see, and even more horrifying that the United States doesn’t want to do anything about it.

Inhaler’s Commentary– When talking about how the song came to be, Eli said, “That’s one that we’ve been playing for a long time. We came into the studio one day and Ant [producer of the album] was messing around with what we had done, and he’d done the intro part with all that kind of crazy psychedelic stuff. We were like, ‘Oh my god, there it is. That’s the identity of that song.’ [Lyrically it comes from] the news. Looking at our phones over lockdown and just horror after horror. And most of it is inspired by stuff we’d seen over in America. We had such a really, really special time going over there, and we all fell in love with it again when we went on tour with Blossoms. And it’s just sad to see America in that kind of state, because it symbolises so much to us.” (via Apple Music)

6. My King Will Be Kind 

Synopsis– The speaker is dealing with a partner who does not reciprocate the feelings that he gives to her. He’s constantly giving his love but isn’t receiving anything in return. He is constantly there for her, constantly thinking about her, constantly wanting to be with her, but yet she shows none of this towards him. The relationship is entirely one-sided, yet something that the speaker does not want to give up, a common theme seen throughout the rest of the album. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“How many times I have to love you, baby?

Touched the ground when you’re feeling down

You walk around like you own this town

Do you think of me, ’cause I’m thinking of you” (Verse 1)

How many times is he going to express his love to her and get nothing in return? How far does he have to go to get just a little bit back? He would do anything for her and anything to make her feel better in any way, even if it means being last on her list of importance. It is expressed that she is a very cocky and overconfident person, someone who acts as though the world revolves around them, someone who has no time for the speaker. He just wants to know if she does think about him, if she does feel the same, but she just doesn’t want to show these feelings.

Inhaler’s Commentary– Eli mentions, “It’s kind of playing a character. I’d watched a documentary on incels. There’s so many people in our generation that are so easily taken into extreme groups or fads. A lot of people don’t really have any room for the other side of an argument. And that’s what the song is trying to touch on. It was originally more of an Interpol-y-type thing. But it really did take shape in studio with the acoustic guitar.” (via Apple Music) 

7. When It Breaks 

Synopsis– The album was written and released during the time that COVID was at its peak, and this song really plays into it. It kind of is all over the place, just like how the world was at the time, and this is the band questioning if things will go back to “normal,” and if so, when? They also wonder about the future, and the state of the world, not only at the time being and what is to come, but also in the past. It’s obvious that this world was never perfect in the first place and during this time of chaos, they ponder whether they would want to return back to this flawed world or take the opportunity they have to make some change. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“What’s it gonna take

For this storm to break?

You don’t know what you’ve got

Until it’s taken away (Verse 1)

The act of going into lockdown from COVID was not expected, anticipated, or exciting in any way whatsoever. It was something that was so seemingly out of blue, and the only people who were even a little happy about it were the kids who were rejoicing over “2 weeks off of school!” But that joy faded once everyone realized there was absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to go, and we don’t realize just how much we’re going to miss until we begin missing it. For performers and avid concert-goers, this was a time of devastation for missing out on what possibly could be the thing that makes them happiest. No one knew when we’d be able to go back to “normal,” if at all–everything

“Like Paris in ’45 

The whole world waiting to come alive (Bridge)

Everyone was itching to get back to life as it was, back to the fun and liveliness that they were missing out on due to the virus. In August of 1945, Paris was finally liberated, which was something extremely victorious for Parisians. The 9-5 curfew was eliminated, poverty and homelessness was cut dramatically, and freedom of speech, thought, religion and political judgment was reintroduced–all of which drastically increased the quality of life for citizens of Paris, allowing them to live freely again, which is exactly what the band is referencing in these lines. They expect for the victory celebration of the quarantine lift to be similar to what came from Paris’ liberation, everyone will be able to live “normally,” freely again, and concerts will come back even better than ever.

Inhaler’s Commentary– The band’s guitarist, Josh Jenkinson, mentioned that the song “came from being stuck in the room [he] spent my whole childhood in, and having gigs stripped away, and just longing to play that type of music and make that type of music.” Eli adds to this by stating, “It was in contrast to that midtempo feeling that we’d been experiencing with ‘Slide Out the Window’ and ‘My King Will Be Kind’. Those were songs reflecting our moods about being at home. ‘When It Breaks’ is us very much itching to get back to that place that we were at. It was written at a time where coronavirus was at its peak, Black Lives Matter was happening. Everything was a little bit up in arms and crazy. And so this was [Eli’s] observation on it.” (via Apple Music). He also said “It’s just a song about wanting to be back at festivals, wanting to be back with crowds and friends and be at parties. It’s about wanting a real life again ‘cause it feels like people haven’t really been able to do that in a long time. That’s what the song is about and that’s what we’re coming from…We’re not really a political band, we don’t really talk about that kind of stuff often but I think that right now the world needs music that says something.” (via KINK) 

8. Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House) 

Synopsis– This track follows the thoughts of the entire band about their future together. They know that this is something they want to do for as long as possible, but also understand that there is a very high possibility that they will not stay together forever–it’s inevitable. Even though this is something they love so much and hope to stay with for however long they can, they know if not, they’ll always remain great friends. They are going to do what they love in the now and remain as people that each other love forever. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“I built my walls too high

Not tryna scare you off

I’ve just been hiding in my head for so long” (Verse 2)

In these few lines, he is stating that he’s been somewhat closed off and isolated from the other members of the band for some time. It comes across that he is kind of nervous to take this leap, especially because it’s so big for the future of not only his, but the entire band’s career. He knows that this is obviously something he and his bandmates all want to do, but it can become overwhelming and anxiety inducing, so he locks himself away. He isn’t trying to raise any fear or concern within his bandmates, but he can’t help it when the emotions and nerves taking over.

Without you, the odds are not in my favor

We’ve got everything to lose

And everything to play for” (Outro) 

He is addressing that in order to remain successful, in order to remain doing this job that he loves, he needs the band. Without them, it’s very unlikely that he’d be able to be an artist or a performer anymore. By taking this huge risk of becoming a band and releasing music with no real background behind them, they’ve quite literally got “everything to lose,” but it is what they all want to do, and they all want to do it with one another, so they also have “everything to play for.” This risk is one that they are all willing and ready to take, they want to take it, they know that by doing this, they’re doing exactly what they love and there can be immense great outcomes from it.

Inhaler’s Commentary– Eli commented “It’s about the future of the band and how much we want it. Maybe our relationships had taken a bit of a strain because we’d been in the studio for so long and there was a lot of pressure and a lot of work, and we weren’t really hanging out—it felt more like we were there to do a job. This is us talking to each other, being like, ‘This is a gamble that we’re going to take. Gigs may never come back again. We may not be a band. But we’ve got everything to lose and everything to play for.’” (via Apple Music) 

9. Totally 

Synopsis– This track depicts the challenges in a relationship where the two just are unable to connect. They have many differences, which in theory would make for a good relationship, but it just causes them to be pushed further apart. It’s obvious through the song that there is clear frustration and even a bit of confusion towards this relationship had by the speaker. The two partners are completely different individuals with opposite traits and there is no way that their relationship will work out, however, the speaker is really trying to curb this communication so it can go well for them despite their extensive contrasts. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“I am totally blind 

You are totally deaf… 

…We talk until the sun comes up 

But still can’t relate” (Verse 1)

The two partners in this relationship are unable to mesh or find commonalities between each other. Metaphorically, with one being blind and the other deaf, it means that they’d have no way to really communicate with each other. The one that is blind could speak but the deaf person wouldn’t be able to hear it, and the deaf person could sign but then the blind person couldn’t see it–so there is no way for them to talk. Getting back into the non-metaphorical side of the relationship, the two spend all this time talking to one another, “until the sun comes up,” specifically, but there is nothing in common between them. This displays that although the speaker evidently wants this relationship to work out, there’s no way it can.

“If I could, I would take full control of it all

You know you don’t even mean that much

Oh why

Can’t I just let go” (Bridge)

This relationship is fairly new so there is no real emotional component to it yet, but despite this, he wants to do everything in his power to keep it alive for as long as he can, a common theme with many of the songs on this album. He’s stating that if he could, he’d take charge of the relationship and make it so that communication between them comes a lot more swiftly and easily, he can’t help but want the best for this even if it doesn’t “mean that much.” He questions why, even though it’s something that doesn’t mean that much, can’t he give it up and just forget about the relationship entirely.

Inhaler’s Commentary– Eli says, “It feels like a big pop song, but it’s a different type of pop song than we had written before. It’s funny because we weren’t playing live [when it was recorded during lockdown], but it feels like it would be such a great festival tune. I guess we were imagining what that could look like—where are we going to be playing it, what moment in the show is it going to be? For us, this is the hold-your-mates-at-the-end-of-the-gig one, going ‘Waaaaaayyy!’” (via Apple Music) 

10. Strange Time To Be Alive 

Synopsis– Robert (Bobby) Keating, the band’s bassist, is the vocalist for the penultimate song on the album. He provides the main amount of backup vocals for the band’s songs, as well as when they play live, but this is the only track that he sings solely by himself. It’s a short song that acts as an interlude prior to the final track of the album, it’s simple, but is still able to communicate so much, and leaves a ton of room for interpretation. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“Life what a strange time to be alive”

This is the only line in the song and is repeated only 3 times throughout the track, which is why it cannot be allotted to a verse/chorus/bridge. It’s a line that the audience can’t really pull apart because we do not know what it can mean, so we are left to interpret it for ourselves. As the album and most of the songs on it are a product of COVID and quarantine, that is most likely what the line is referencing. It was such an interesting and odd time for the world to be living through, one that surely no one expected to happen. Everything felt completely off and wrong, and it truly was “a strange time to be alive.”

Inhaler’s Commentary– Bobby commented, “It used to be a full song and it turned into an interlude. It has only got the one lyric, a little message to have towards the end of the album. And we thought it worked really well with the ending song as well. We jammed it together in the studio.” Ryan also mentioned “It was Ant who spotted it. It was the chorus of this demo that Rob was writing. He was like, ‘We need to get that on the album. That’s going to resonate with so many people.’” (via Apple Music)

11. In My Sleep 

Synopsis– Themes of yearning and longing, escapism, and emotional vulnerability are all evidently present on this track. It depicts how in the speaker’s sleep, they are able to disconnect from the world and everything that’s going on, something they seem to desire so much, and get to be in a peaceful dream state for some time before unfortunately having to return back to reality. In his sleep, he doesn’t have to deal with his thoughts or emotions or any burden that he is given when not asleep. He seeks to escape from the pressures and realities of life, the world of dreams providing him refuge. 

Lyric Pullouts– 

“In my dreams

I don’t know where I am

I don’t care” (Verse 1)

Dreams, if able to remember them at all, are always very fuzzy and scattered. Despite this, the speaker doesn’t care, as stated, because at least it provides this relief and removal from reality. Getting to be in dreams means getting to be blissful and at peace, not having to deal with the challenges that come day to day back in the real world. It doesn’t matter to him that he can’t seem to figure out where he is within his dream because he doesn’t have to be burdened by living and being conscious.

“I warned you

You’re tender

When you turn off

It feels so much better” (Post-Chorus)

These lines seem to be referring to a partner who the speaker is emotionally detached from. Everything going on in his life is keeping him from opening up to her, so when she turns her emotions off and shares this same detachment towards him, it’s a lot easier for him to deal with. He knows that she is most likely sensitive, but at this point in time it’s just something that he is unable to handle. That’s why he cherishes this sleep, these dreams, so much, because there’s nothing to deal with or handle as there is when not unconscious.

Inhaler’s Commentary– On how this track became the end to the album, Eli stated, “When we did it, it felt like such a big Thin Lizzy moment, almost. We were like, ‘Oh god, it reminds me of being at home,’ that kind of music you listen to as a kid. And we put some uilleann pipes in there, which are an Irish instrument, and it really felt like us. It embodied that feeling of coming home after a tour. It just felt really natural to put at the end. It’s a send-off.” (via Apple Music) 



This is an album that I immediately fell in love with from the moment I first heard it, and I remain in love with to this day. It is something different from most of the other music I listen to, but something that is so enjoyable, and especially amazing when heard live. These indie pop-rock, psychedelic-esque tracks are all different and unique in their own ways but are all equally astounding. This is music that I am so lucky and wonderful to have found and I cannot wait for them to release their next record. This band’s love for making music and performing is so evident in their music and performances and seeing them live was one of the best experiences of my life. They may still be very small and somewhat unknown, but I am sure that they are going to accomplish so much. And finally–


1. Cheer Up Baby

2. It Won’t Always Be Like This

3. When It Breaks

4. My Honest Face

5. Who’s Your Money On (Plastic House)

6. A Night On The Floor

7. My King Will Be Kind

8. In My Sleep

9. Slide Out The Window

10. Totally

11. Strange Time To Be Alive





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