Despite their Eurovision victory, cocaine finger-pointing, and international hits “Beggin’” and “Supermodel,” the team behind Italy’s saltiest rockers, Måneskin, are still something of a mystery. Attractive in their brooding looks and smart swagger, Damiano David, Victoria De Angelis, Thomas Raggi, and Ethan Torchio have maintained their mystique by mostly staying away from the United States, save for their “If I Can Dream” winding its way through the unhinged, collage-like score to Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. The non-stop erotic attack of the Presley biopic was a perfect appetizer with which to welcome the Max Martin–overproduced entrée to the Americas, and Rush! is the slick, chic, and over-stuffed meal in which to portray their fullest flavors—their spiced-up, Jane’s Addiction-meets-Maroon-5 take on sex, drugs, fashion, and fame.
At 17 songs, sometimes Rush! is too much of a good thing. “Baby Said,” the scrunch-bass driven “Gasoline,” and the generically sensualistic “Feel” rock and roll despite the unshocking revelation of “cocaine on the table” and David’s gruff, heaving, breathing vocals. “Don’t Wanna Sleep”? Yes. Sleep. Go ahead.
When Rush! hits, however, it’s the most impactfully sleazy, raw, and swaggering pop on the block (despite its often overly sleek production and tamping down of live energy). The pogo-worthy “Kool Kids”—highlighted by Damiano’s faux-British roar and some liquidy John McGeoch–worthy guitars—is a literal smash. To start the album with “Own My Mind” is to welcome the feel of spy-rocking pop to your party with a growly vocalist whose rap cadence and flow is closer to Rihanna than to Adam Levine. As a fellow Italian, the drifting crank and jangle of “Il Dono Della Vita”—sung in their native tongue and featuring a woozy bass solo by the band’s secret weapon, De Angelis—is assolutamente fottutamente fantasioso e audace.
Elsewhere, there are plenty of tips of the hats to their heroes: “If Not for You” and “Timezone” have the feel of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lost-boy balladry, especially on the circular swinging hollowness of the guitars on the latter. “Gossip” has the corny melodic floatiness of a Eurovision-worthy epic, but with a tart taste for catty, TMZ-grade tattletaling and a mean, lean, searing Tom Morello guitar solo. And while the spare, prancy “Bla Bla Bla” could be a silly, rockist update of “Din Da Da” or “Da Da Da,” the slow, watery finale of “The Loneliest” is hyperbolic power balladry—with its incremental building to a loud crescendo—at its finicky, feline finest. No matter what hype Måneskin is pushing, I’m sold. Rush! is the future of what curt, chic rock and roll should sound like.