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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

It’s all about Ma: Behind the ‘Rush!’

Gabriel Zarazua | The Obser
Gabriel Zarazua | The Observer

Winning Eurovision, playing multiple sold-out shows around the world and being nominated for a Grammy Award would be a dream for any group of people in their early 20s — but for Italian rock band Maneskin, it’s a reality. 

Damiano David (lead vocals), Thomas Raggi (guitar), Ethan Torchio (drums) and Victoria De Angelis (bass) rose to fame in the American mainstream with their popular cover of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons’ “Beggin’,” but much of their discography remains unknown to the general public. “Rush!,” released on Jan. 20, is their fourth studio album. While it’s good, it’s not their best work.

To create their debut international album, the quartet worked with talented producer and songwriter Max Martin (“... Baby One More Time,” “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space” and “Blinding Lights” among others). The LP is mostly sung in English (likely to reach a more global audience) but features a few Italian songs to represent the foundation of their music career. While the band has always dabbled in English, their earlier albums are Italian-heavy, so this is quite a change from their typical style.

Regardless, they deliver on their promises of being an energetic, fierce and unstoppable force of rock-and-roll. “Own My Mind” is a stand-out track, opening the album with the promise of greatness. They fall flat with the tedious “Bla Bla Bla” but quickly regain their momentum with “Baby Said.” “Gasoline” is an incredibly anti-Putin protest song that has remained a fan-favorite since its debut at 2022 Coachella. Italian songs “Mark Chapman,” “La Fine” and “Il Dono Della Vita” round out the new, and the album ends with the oldest singles “Mammamia,” “Supermodel” and “The Loneliest.”

Overall, the album is good. With the attention that their Eurovision win brought them, the world waited to see how they would progress in their music. They were no longer buskers on the streets of Rome — they were young people representing rock in a mainstream that no longer accepts it. For the expectations that weighed upon their shoulders, they delivered with devilish grins. 

However, when the spotlight shines too brightly, they misstep. The three singles featured at the end of the album have their merits, but they fit in oddly — it’s almost like they were an afterthought. The other two singles — “Gossip (feat. Tom Morello)” and “La Fine” — flow well in the tracklist, which begs the question about the placement and inclusion of the others. “Rush!” did not need the success of its earliest singles to flourish, and they only seem to bring the quality down. 

To many critics, however, the addition of the singles is not their primary focus. What they think is the most worthy of criticism is the lyrical depth of the album. It seems they can’t fathom how an album can be good without every song showing a deeply impactful and incisive perspective of humanity. Some of Maneskin’s songs — on “Rush!” and otherwise — utilize this approach to music-making, but why can’t they create music that’s just fun? Why can’t they simply enjoy themselves while singing about the thrills of living?

No matter what people say about the new album, however, the quartet will continue to rise in stardom for the foreseeable future. Since their Eurovision win, they’ve achieved unimaginable wonders. They’ve collaborated with Iggy Pop (The Stooges) and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), covered a song for the “Elvis” (2022) soundtrack and even opened for the Rolling Stones in Las Vegas. And now, they’re nominated for Best New Artist at the 2023 Grammy Awards. With all of their accomplishments, the world can only have hope for the future of their sound and image. 

Album: “Rush!”

Artist: Maneskin

Label: Sony

Favorite tracks: “Own My Mind,” “Baby Said,” “Il Dono Della Vita”

If you like: Rock music, Italians, chunky bass lines

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5