January 31, 2023
In an era of supposedly sweet pop songs from a handful of artists who seem to permanently reside on the Billboard Hot 100 (love you, Taylor Swift, but I’m staring right at you), there’s a little more angst behind America’s lack of music and black eyeliner.
Italian rock band Måneskin have been lucky enough to go mainstream to avoid being overlooked as the general music-listening populace tries to answer a never-ending question: What exactly is rock ‘n’ roll?
Of course, the band’s presence was the epitome of rock and roll. The band’s four members have a heavily made-up sex appeal that evokes rock ‘n’ roll in its most basic cartoon form. Each member’s appearance begs the question: Do all rock stars need to look terribly dowdy and flawless? Måneskin frontman Damiano David’s buzzing head of late seems to be saying yes.
Rising to global fame after winning Italy’s international Eurovision Song Contest 2021 with his song “Zitti e buoni,” Måneskin may soon be seen as the new savior of rock music – a genre that seems to be forever. But if the band’s latest album release is anything to say, rock ‘n’ roll still has a long way to go before it’s finally dead, the death rock stars have been lamenting for decades.
Released on January 20, “RUSH!” is the band’s third studio album and most ambitious venture yet, comprising 17 songs – only three of which are in the band’s native Italian. If the album’s title is any indication, “RUSH!” is an uptempo whirlwind of lyrical rock tropes and commercial stadium tour-ready headbangers, even if they don’t offer much in the way of reinventing rock’s sound, making for the perfect angst Bedroom Chorus.
While “Rush!” may not have been a groundbreaking album in terms of musical creativity, it was a formidable force in terms of cohesion and storytelling. Throughout the album, David sings about the world of rock stars, filled with ’90s supermodels, stolen Basquiats and ex-lover. In the background, three other band members—bassist Victoria De Angelis, guitarist Thomas Raggi, and drummer Ethan Torchio—contribute equally to the story with their respective instruments.
Beyond the grating, rebellious glamour, embodied in the album’s plot, Måneskin seems aware of the extent to which his latest album satirizes some of the rock genre’s most recognizable parts. On the almost colloquial track “KOOL KIDS,” the band members express their thoughts on their place in the rock world: “Honestly, I don’t care.” Similarly, “BLA BLA BLA” is another nonchalant track on the album. Anthem – David barely bothers to say the song, let alone rap, and anyone with a problem can kiss his “bu-bu-bu-bu”-no-no-ass.
“SUPERMODEL” embodies the album’s central claim that the world could use a few more rock stars. Its lyrics harken back to the good old days of rock and roll (whatever those days were) when supermodels were rampant and rock stars were “at your fingertips.”
Another example of the album’s ability to seamlessly blend past and present is the song “GOSSIP.” The album’s second track, featuring Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, is pop enough for Gen Z, and for those old enough to be around when Morello was with the band It’s also nostalgic enough to be one of his groupies. Morello’s signature guitar-smashing skills are unmissable on the track and blend perfectly with Måneskin’s already seamlessly balanced four-man team.
If “Rush!” is any evidence, today’s rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead — it’s just different. What makes this album work is that it remembers its roots without worshiping them too much. Måneskin was nominated for Best New Artist at this year’s Grammys. If they win, it could cement rock’s resurgence on the global stage. What if they don’t? That’s the kind of rebellious thing a rock band would do.
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