January 31, 2023
In an era of simplistically sweet pop hits from the same few artists who seem to have a permanent existence on the Billboard Hot 100 (love you, Taylor Swift, but I’m staring at you), the United States is missing music with a little more angst and black eyeliner behind it.
Italian rock band Måneskin are lucky enough to be mainstream enough to avoid relegation when the music-listening public tries to answer the never-ending question: What exactly is rock and roll?
Of course, the band’s look is the epitome of rock. The sex appeal of the four band members is smeared with makeup that evokes rock and roll in its most basic, cartoonish form. Each member’s appearance begs the question: do all rock stars always have to look perfectly sleazy and perfectly rude? Måneskin frontman Damiano David’s recently buzzed head seems to be saying yes.
Meneskin, who became famous worldwide after winning the international Eurovision Song Contest for Italy in 2021 with his song “Zitti e buoni”, may soon be considered the new savior of rock and roll, a genre that seems to be dying. But if the band’s latest album is anything to go by, rock ‘n’ roll still has a ways to go before it finally dies, a death rock stars have lamented for decades.
Released on January 20, “RUSH!” is the band’s third studio album and their most ambitious effort to date, featuring 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 swirl of lyrical rock tropes and commercial stadium-tour-ready headbangers that make for perfect raging bedroom sing-alongs, even if they don’t offer much in the way of reinventing the rock sound.
While “RUSH!” It may not be a groundbreaking album in terms of musical invention, but it’s a strength when it comes to cohesion and storytelling. Throughout the album, David sings about the rock star’s world filled with ’90s supermodels, stolen Basquiats and ex-lovers. In the background, the other three members of the band – bassist Victoria DeAngelis, guitarist Thomas Raggi and drummer Ethan Torchio – equally participate in the story with their instruments.
Adding to the raucous rebellion inherent in the album’s plot, Maneskin seems aware of the extent to which its latest album satirizes the most recognizable parts of the rock genre. In the almost-spoken song, “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.” Likewise, “BLA BLA BLA” is another ode to the unkindness on the album – David can barely be bothered to speak the song, let alone sing it, and anyone who has a problem with that can kiss their “boo-boo-boo- bu”. -bu-bu-but.”
“SUPERMODEL” embodies the album’s central claim that the world could do with a few more rock stars. Its lyrics are a throwback to the good ol’ days of rock (whatever those were) when supermodels were all the rage and “accessible” to rock stars.
Another example of the album’s ability to seamlessly blend past and present is the track ‘GOSSIP’. The album’s second track, featuring Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, is pop enough for Gen Z and nostalgic enough for those old enough to have been a member of Morello’s band during his time with the band. Morello’s iconic guitar shredding skills are hard to miss on the track and blend perfectly with Maneskin’s already perfectly balanced four-piece team.
If “HURRY UP!” there’s some proof, modern rock and roll isn’t dead—just different. The album succeeds because it remembers its roots without overly worshiping them. Maneskin has been nominated for the Grammy award this year as the best new artist. If they win, it could cement the resurgence of rock and roll on the global stage. And if they don’t? It’s just the kind of rebellious thing a rock band would do.
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