January 31, 2023
In an era of plain sweet pop hits from a handful of artists who seem to have settled permanently on the Billboard Hot 100 (I love you, Taylor Swift, but I’m staring at you), the United States is losing a little bit of music. more angst and black eyeliner behind it.
Italian rock band Måneskin is lucky enough to be mainstream enough to avoid falling through the cracks as the general music-listening population tries to answer one eternal question: What exactly is rock ‘n’ roll?
Certainly, the appearance of the band is the epitome of rock. There’s a certain smudged-makeup-skin-showing sex appeal to the four-member band that evokes rock ‘n’ roll in its most basic, cartoonish form. Each member’s appearance begs the question: Do all rock stars always have to look completely sleazy and flawless? Måneskin frontman Damiano David’s buzzed head seems to be yes recently.
Rising to international fame after winning the international Eurovision Song Contest for Italy in 2021 with the song “Zitti e buoni,” Måneskin can be considered the new savior of rock ‘n’ roll — a genre that seems to be dying. But, if the latest album release from the band is anything to go by, rock ‘n’ roll still has a ways to go before it finally dies the death rock stars have mourned for decades.
Released on January 20, “RUSH!” is the band’s third studio album and its most ambitious work yet, consisting of 17 songs — only three of which are in the band’s native Italian. If the album title is any indication, “RUSH!” is a fast-paced whirlwind of lyrical rock tropes and commercial stadium tour-ready headbangers that make for perfect angsty bedroom sing-a-longs, even if they don’t offer much in the way of reinventing the rock sound.
While “RUSH!” Maybe not a groundbreaking album in terms of musical inventiveness, it’s a powerhouse when it comes to cohesion and storytelling. Throughout the album, David sings about the world of a rock star, filled with ʼ90s supermodels, stolen Basquiats and ex-lovers. In the background, the other three band members ― bassist Victoria De Angelis, guitarist Thomas Raggi and drummer Ethan Torchio ― contribute equally to the story with their respective instruments.
Adding to the allure of gritty rebellion implied in the album’s plotline, Måneskin seems aware of the extent to which its latest album satirizes the rock genre’s most recognizable parts. On the almost spoken-word track “KOOL KIDS,” the band members express their thoughts on their place in the world of rock ‘n’ roll: “Honestly, I don’t give an af–k.” Similarly, “BLA BLA BLA” is another ode to the album’s apathy — David can barely be bothered to talk about the song, let alone sing it, and anyone who has a problem with it can kiss his “bu-bu- bu-bu. -bu-bu-butt.”
“SUPERMODEL” presents the album’s main statement that the world could make with few other rock stars. Its lyrics are a callback to the good old days of rock (whatever those were) when supermodels were prevalent and “accessible” to rock stars.
Another example of the album’s ability to seamlessly blend past and present is the song “TSISMIS.” Featuring Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, the album’s second track is pop-y enough for Gen Z and nostalgic enough for the adults who were in one of Morello’s groups during his time with the group. Morello’s iconic guitar cutting skills are hard to miss on the track and mesh perfectly with Måneskin’s well-balanced four-man crew.
If “RUSH!” is any attestation, rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead today — it’s just different. The album succeeds because it remembers its roots but doesn’t overdo it. Måneskin is nominated for Best New Artist at this year’s Grammys. If they win, it could cement rock ‘n’ roll’s resurgence on the global scene. And if they don’t? That’s just the kind of rebellious thing a rock band would do.
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