On his latest album, Post Malone does little to set the world alight and convince me that he is anything more than the final boss that connects the worlds of pop and hip-hop to form a terrifying commercial monster. There’s good songs, obviously, he’s far too talented to do much different; but it’s his most uninspired effort to date. The locals will love it but it doesn’t do an awful lot for me.
Austin Richard Post used to hang around with Minecraft YouTubers and sing Bob Dylan songs on Twitch with them, fast forward six years and he is a global megastar; pumping out smash hits like they’re going out of fashion. His debut album Stoney was brilliant in my eyes, an easy to digest but sonically enjoyable R&B album which made the world fall in love with Post Malone. The follow-up album, Beerbongs & Bentley’s, was grittier and more nauseous; but ultimately a mixed bag of bangers and snoozers. It’s time for album three, and rather than revert to the qualities of Stoney, Post appears to have followed the sophomore record’s trends and make them a bit more mushy.
Don’t get me wrong; Hollywood’s Bleeding has great songs on it. The lead single Wow is absolute heat, the most hip-hop he has ever sounded and one of the catchiest tracks of his career. The title track is also fantastic, following on in the footsteps of his previous work by opening the album with a bang (see also: Broken Whiskey Glass from Stoney and Paranoid from B&B),
My gripe with the album is just how gimmicky and formulaic it can sound. Take, for instance, Staring At The Sun with SZA; that song literally sounds like a mashup of Post’s earlier hit Sunflower (the very song that appears NEXT on the tracklist) and SZA’s 2018 hit with Kendrick Lamar All The Stars. It’s a weak imitation of both songs and it falls very flat. Speaking of Sunflower, all memes aside, what on earth is it doing on this album? Streaming hikes is the only reason I can think of, because a Spiderman soundtrack anthem appearing on an album that intends to be as gritty and angsty as Hollywood’s Bleeding? I’m not so sure.
There are a lot of recycled ideas from his last album on this most recent effort; using the not-so-gritty-but-gritty-by-pop-music-standards sounds to sing about heartbreak and his struggles with love.
The features vary from fantastic to eye-rolling, understandable to downright confusing. The obvious place to start is Take What You Want, a song which saw Post Malone link up with two artists from entirely different realms. 70’s rock god Ozzy Osbourne and modern day rockstar Travis Scott on the same song sounds like something out of a random generator, yet here we are talking about it happening in real life. Ozzy’s hook is chilly, it serves the adequate star power that i think Post wanted, mix that with a typically deep fried Travis Scott verse and a mean guitar solo and you have a track that is way better than it has any right to be.
Next on the ‘weird feature combinations’ roulette we have Die For Me with Future and Halsey. Let me say one thing, this song absolutely sucks, BUT; those high notes Future hits at the end of his verse are beautiful. Halsey and Post Malone sound corny and cringey as both sing about loyalty or a lack thereof from their partner in between a really trash hook. Let’s move on. The standout feature performance come from Young Thug (obviously) on Goodbyes as he proves to us once and for all that he can raise the bar as soon as he appears on any song.
This album isn’t straight up terrible, it is just a disappointingly meh release. Post Malone has never sounded more pop than he does right now, and if he isn’t careful he is in danger of going too far the other way and ending up with the same fate as someone like Khalid; an immensely talented singer with really boring music.
BEST TRACKS: Hollywood’s Bleeding, Allergic, A Thousand Bad Times, Take What You Want
WORST TRACKS: Saint-Tropez, Die For Me, I’m Gonna Be, Staring In The Sun, Myself