4 out of 5 stars
Considering the near-universal appeal of rock and roll, specifically from English-speaking countries like the US, Australia, and the UK, it’s frustrating that more acts from other countries don’t have a larger presence in the genre. Exceptions exist, but generally, there haven’t been many rock groups to break through to the US market from locales where English isn’t the primary language.
That makes the somewhat surprising stateside success of Italy’s Måneskin so refreshing. The quartet’s two previous releases, with tunes sung in Italian and English, were so well embraced that they landed a coveted spot on Saturday Night Live as musical guests in January 2022.
So the pressure was on for the next album to push them over the edge into crossover acceptance. With RUSH! they have met that challenge by channeling the same glammy, gutsy, gusto that typifies a group that grabs elements from the past and tweaks them for contemporary audiences who may not be familiar with the band’s earlier work.
Having Tom Morello guest on the first single, the stomping, riff-heavy “Gossip” (sung in English) provides instant credibility for a crunching classic that consolidates everything Måneskin does well.
Hooks? Huge ones. Distinctive sexually charged singer? Check. Sing-along melodies ready for the larger arenas they will doubtlessly be filling? You bet. And Morello’s guitar provides the knockout punch. If “Gossip” isn’t a rock radio hit, it’s hard to imagine what could be.
With 17 mostly terrific songs (three sung in Italian), only one breaking the four-minute mark, the collection has the jittery intensity of a lion pacing before feeding time. Selections like the pumping “Gasoline,” “Don’t Wanna Sleep” and the leathery bottom of “Read Your Diary” leap out with a sex, drugs, and rock and roll arrogance that Iggy Pop (who has already worked with them on “I Wanna Be Your Slave” in 2021) and few others can muster without sounding cloying, phony or pretentious.
It’s a tricky tightrope but these three guys and one woman (whose bass lines are integral to their attack) pull it off admirably. Take a bit of Gang of Four’s incisive funk, add some Aerosmith attitude, and lyrics that’ll make even sexually liberated listeners blush (Oh, mamma-mamma-mia, spit your love on me I’m on my knees, and I can’t wait to drink your rain) and tough dance floor filling beats is a summary of Måneskin’s formula for success.
When frontman Damiano David sings/raps in Italian on “La Fine,” you don’t need to look up translations to get into a groove the band conjures through huge bass, drums, guitar licks, and brashness that threatens to skid off into artifice but never does.
Perhaps we could have done without the closing power ballad “The Loneliest,” but that’s the only misstep on an album that should thrust this band into worldwide superstar status.
Photo by NDZ/Star Max/GC Images