Måneskin live and breathe rock music. It’s easy to point to the Italian group – with their model-thin waists, cheek-bones you could cut glass with, and Eurovision medals – and be cynical, but perhaps that says more about the observer than it does about the actual musicians. Four people who want to do anything they can to get their music heard, Måneskin put the distortion pedal to the metal and make their hustle count. Sure, they look better than most groups… but since when was looking glamorous a fault in the rock world? If decent lips are a crime, then chuck Axl Rose and Steven Tyler in jail.
‘Rush’ is the multi-platinum band’s third album, and it’s their most international to date. A fair chunk of it is in Italian – which is only right, after all – but much of the lyric sheet is in English. The songs conjure a kind of mid-Atlantic feel, borrowing from the sleazy glamour of LA’s Sunset Strip, and the dirty bohemia of Camden. It’s all late nights and early mornings, instinctive decisions and eager regrets; ruthlessly entertaining, it’s also tongue-in-cheek, at places downright funny.
Crunching opening ‘Own My Mind’ leads into a bombastic introductory salvo. Legendary guitarist Tom Morella shreds hard on ‘Gossip’, while ‘Timezone’ is a raucous punk-edged thriller. ‘Baby Said’ and ‘Gasoline’ feel twinned, offering differing takes on passion and relationships. Mid-album highlight ‘Don’t Wanna Sleep’ is a helter-skelter workout, all thunder ‘n’ lightning guitars and wailing vocals.
There’s little that’s truly original here, but while this isn’t ground-breaking it’s certainly gripping. ‘Rush!’ revels in bombast, a 17 track double album guided by uber-producer Max Martin. As such, there’s a lot of excess on display – whether that’s the one-too-many guitar licks on ‘Bla Bla Bla’ or the devilish, disturbing lyrics of ‘Mark Chapman’.
Perhaps that’s the point, however. Måneskin thrive on adapting sleazy rock tropes to the modern landscape, and while its 17 track largesse may recall ‘Use Your Illusion I & II’ it also puts you in mind of those recent Drake goliaths, playing the algorithm at its own game.
A late album rundown boasts a plethora of Italian language thrills, a reminder that Måneskin pack out actual, genuine Serie A stadiums in their homeland. Exhaustive and exhausting, ‘Rush!’ feels like the definitive word in this unlikely rock phenomenon – at its best, it’s a feral reminder of how entertaining the genre can be.
Words: Robin Murray
Inset Photo: Francis Delacroix