Photo Credit: Tommaso Ottomano
It can sometimes feel like whoever asked for the return of rock music to the mainstream, made their wish on a monkey’s paw. Rock music had its comeback, but its standard-bearers [?] ended up being the chronically unlikeable Machine Gun Kelly and TikTok phenomenon Gayle – whose breakout hit “ABCDEFU” wasn’t even that bad but did inspire a wave of significantly worse imitators.
After their 2021 Eurovision-winning performance of “Zitti E Buoni,” it was unclear whether Måneskin would prove to be the saviors mainstream rock desperately needed or whether they would join the endless leagues of poor imitators of rock greats. The winning song was so-so, but it was hard not to be enamored by the band’s striking live performance – between their dynamic frontman Damiano David and their bassist Victoria De Angelis who seemed to be having just as much fun as the entranced audience.
It probably didn’t help the band’s artistic trajectory that their biggest hit post-Eurovision turned out to be a poorly mixed four-year-old cover of Madcon-hit “Beggin’.” Their post-Eurovision output, it has turned out, has confirmed the fears of their worst critics, and their third LP RUSH! stinks of diminishing returns – an overlong collection of 17 songs that find the band desperately in search of a distinctive identity.
Much of RUSH! finds the band blatantly ripping off better and more interesting artists. The America-condemnation “GOSSIP” aims to replicate the expert cultural commentary of Marina’s “Hollywood” but more closely resembles the garish rock opera of Panic! At The Disco’s Viva Las Vengeance. “Timezone’s” chord progression, meanwhile, bears an uncanny resemblance to Jessie Rayez’s “Figures” and “Gasoline” sounds like a rocked-up reject from Halsey’s Badlands. The most shameless rip-off, however, arrives in the form of Wet Leg-aping “Bla Bla Bla” – the deadpan sprechgesang delivery, the dry humor, the one-liners (“I hate your face, but I like your mum’s”), the repeated cries of “ha ha ha,” the casual sexual explicitly. The song would be straightforwardly enjoyable if it wasn’t so embarrassing to watch the quartet cosplay a younger, far better band so unashamedly.
The title of Måneskin’s third LP is stylized with an exclamation mark and full capitalization – as are all the song’s tracks. It’s fitting for an album devoid of subtlety that largely feels like it’s being shouted at you. It would be an easier pill to swallow if the band had something more substantial to say – instead, the LP is rife with clichés and half-assed attempts at machismo. The rare moments of enjoyability occur when the music is defined by an undercurrent of tension – like when David cries “Only thing that keeps us apart // Is 7,000 miles, running like a mad dog” on the chorus of “Timezone”. It’s unfortunate that there are so few moments like this – where the stakes feel real and the band sounds like they really care about what they are singing.