In the world of rock music, where authenticity and a rebellious spirit have long been cherished virtues, the arrival of Måneskin has sparked a spirited debate. Are they the last true rock band, carrying the torch of a fading era, or are they something entirely different—a pop-rock hybrid that defies traditional categorization?
To explore this question, it’s essential to delve into the recent review of Måneskin’s latest album, “RUSH!” by music critic Larson. A disclosure that Larson had edited an essay for Pitchfork about the Talking Heads album “Remain in Light” and the acknowledgment of a personal connection with the band could potentially color his perspective. However, it’s worth examining the critique as it highlights a broader discussion within the rock music community.
Larson’s review seems to echo a sentiment shared by many rock purists. He suggests that “RUSH!” incorporates numerous pop and commercial elements, such as familiar song structures and lyrics that, at times, might appear less profound. These elements, according to Larson, seemingly hindered the album from providing the raw emotional connection that is often sought in rock music.
This perspective aligns with what some might call the post-’90s rock consensus (PNRC), which contends that rock loses its authenticity and appeal when it veers too close to mass-market, commercial sounds. The PNRC rests on the premise that rock music isn’t just about song structures but also the relationship it forges between the band and society. This relationship, often characterized by an adversarial stance between rockers and mainstream culture, has been at the heart of rock’s enduring appeal since its earliest days, rooted in Black music. It animated the youth and counterculture movements of the ’60s and fueled the punk revolution in response to the commercialization of rock.
Intriguingly, Måneskin stands apart from this traditional narrative. While they play rock music, their approach aligns more with the logic of pop. This unique perspective challenges the notion that rock must maintain a certain distance from mainstream sounds to be authentic.
During a lunch meeting in Milan with Måneskin and their managers, Marica Casalinuovo and Fabrizio Ferraguzzo, it became apparent that the band operates differently from the typical rock archetype. Casalinuovo, formerly an executive producer on “The X Factor,” and Ferraguzzo, the show’s musical director, transitioned from the world of television talent competitions to working with Måneskin. They shared their vision for Moysa, a multifunctional creative hub encompassing recording studios, soundstages, rehearsal spaces, offices, and more.
Ferraguzzo, who played a pivotal role in the production of “RUSH!” alongside notable figures like Max Martin, introduced the band’s then-unreleased single, “Honey (Are U Coming?)” during the meeting. The track retained Måneskin’s signature elements, such as synchronized guitar and bass melodies and a rhythmic style reminiscent of post-Strokes rock. However, David’s vocals explored higher registers, introducing a new dimension to their sound. The song, whether played on studio monitors or a phone speaker, showcased meticulous production, raising questions about the role of industry veterans and their influence on the band’s creative process.
Måneskin’s unique position within the music industry introduces a tension between their rock-inspired songwriting conventions and the pop-centric circumstances in which their music is produced. While they embody the essence of a tight-knit rock band, they exist within a colossal music industry machine.
From Måneskin’s perspective, this machine is not inherently detrimental. Instead, it represents an opportunity to navigate the evolving landscape of music production. In a world where genres are increasingly fluid and boundaries are blurred, Måneskin’s fusion of rock and pop might just be the bridge between two seemingly disparate worlds.
In the end, the debate surrounding Måneskin‘s identity—rock band, pop band, or something in between—may be indicative of a broader transformation in the music industry. As genres continue to evolve and merge, it becomes increasingly evident that traditional definitions no longer suffice. Måneskin’s journey serves as a testament to the power of music to transcend boundaries and challenge established norms, all while remaining true to one’s artistic vision.