Post Malone delivers an ambitious project that isn't quite as experimental as we'd hoped.
It's hard for us to truly say what we were expecting from Post Malone's third studio album. The Syracuse native and Texas-raised recording artist has dropped off two solid studio albums thus far in his short career. We still find ourselves listening to Stoney from time to time and, if we're being completely honest, a large number of b&b songs are still in weekly rotation. The rollout for Hollywood's Bleeding was much different than his last two projects. Post Malone went a more secretive route, informing us all that the body of work would soon be available but waiting until the very last moment to uncover the tracklist and features. With guests including Halsey, DaBaby, Travis Scott, and even freaking Ozzy Osbourne (who Posty did not discover...), fans were stoked to see what would come next.
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Released on September 6, Post Malone's new album Hollywood's Bleeding encompasses a number of different musical genres. The eccentric 24-year-old is well-known for meshing together pop, rap, country, and rock to create a unique mash-up of styles. That's on full display here with some songs leaning much further on the pop spectrum ("Die For Me," "Sunflower," and "I'm Gonna Be"), while others serve as rock and country-tinted hits ("Allergic," "Circles," "Myself"), some explore his darker, punk side ("Take What You Want") and finally, a few jump over to the hip-hop world ("Enemies" and "Wow.")
Post Malone was always going to sell a ton of copies of this album. There was no question about that. If you're not a fan of the crooner, your mom probably is. And if she's not, her mom might be. That's how influential Malone has been in the last few years. One of his songs is bound to always be on the Billboard Hot 100 and when it comes to Hollywood's Bleeding, it will easily debut at the top spot on the album chart next week.
With that said, Post Malone tends to produce great efforts, in a singular vacuum. Each chart-topping hit he creates is inoffensively easy to listen to. However when it comes to crafting an album that sounds as cohesive and concise as each single, Post tends to have difficulty.
If we navigate through all the positive moments on this album, there are plenty. A handful of these songs have the potential to absolutely blow up on the radio. Nearly every cut is laced with Posty's expert melodies and Louis Bell's incredible songwriting ability. Unfortunately, though, some of the features feel like they simply do not have appropriate chemistry with the main artist, dampening the overall tone of the album, and in other instances, musical experiments remind us of Post's more cringe-y habits.
The first three songs on the project are solid. Everything starts off with an endearing message about love, using the glitz and glam of Hollywood as a metaphor. Post and his partner are chasing the feelings they used to have for one another even though they know they'll end up separating. The title track is beautiful, mirroring popular tracks like "Sicko Mode" in experiencing a pretty abrupt beat switch before heading back to the original instrumental. We're then led into the infectious "Saint-Tropez" before the first questionable moment arrives.
"Enemies" is a good song. Don't get me wrong. As a big fan of both Posty and DaBaby, I was personally excited to hear this one. The song is quite interesting in that it can describe the structure for many of the collaborations on Hollywood's Bleeding. The Texas singer brings DaBaby into his world, providing him with a very Post beat-- there's an easy bounce and catchiness to it-- a softened beat for the tropes of someone like Baby. At times, he sounds out of place, which has led some fans to speculate that the label pushed the North Carolina-bred rapper onto the album at the last minute due to his current popularity. Whatever the case, it worked, because despite this, the song has quickly become a fan-favorite.
After this, we get to possibly the weakest stretch of the album. Between "Allergic," "A Thousand Bad Times" and "Circles," the cringe-worthy moments begin to set in. "Allergic" might be one of the worst songs Post Malone has ever released. It doesn't sound like it belongs on this album. It sounds as though Post was trying to recreate something that he appreciated in his youth, bringing pop-punk to the rap world and seeing how things would work out. The effort comes off as genuine, with the listener clearly aware that this is a vibe that has influenced the artist for years. However, the aggressiveness of the hook doesn't quite match the tracks preceding and following. "A Thousand Bad Times" still carries a strong pop-punk influence. Mixing prominent vocal effects with angsty lyrics, this one doesn't exactly scratch the itch. "Circles" grows on you with time but don't expect to fall in love on the first listen. These three cuts won't please everybody but Post does deserve his props for actually trying something new and experimenting with his sound.
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Interestingly enough, the most compelling run of the album arrives after these three cuts. Future and Post form a solid duo on "Die For Me" with Halsey adding little to the song as a whole. Still, it should be noted that both artists appeared to be comfortable operating under Post's direction. "On The Road" is another one with a list of names that you wouldn't normally see frequent this type of instrumental. Featuring Meek Mill and Lil Baby, the street veteran and the Atlanta trapper come out relatively unscathed, delivering the goods and calling it a day. Finally, we get to the best song on the entire album: "Take What You Want."
This was the one that people gravitated towards immediately. Considering the rapper got Travis Scott and Ozzy Osbourne (!!!) on the same track, everyone was curious to see how this would turn out. Surprisingly enough, it isn't just the most entertaining song on Hollywood's Bleeding, it's also the greatest departure from what we expected here, and it gives insight to where Post could go, if he continues to experiment. Ozzy starts us off before Posty brings emotion and raw energy to his verse. Finally, Travis Scott delivers one of his most enjoyable features of the entire year, presenting his soul to the beat and dedicating himself to it fully.
If every song were as intensely creative and experimental as "Take What You Want," Hollywood's Bleeding could have been a classic. The blueprint was there and Post's intentions were authentic. The man wanted to walk into the studio, try out a few different vibes, mash them together, bring people to his universe and see how it would turn out. Depending on how you look at things, he was either successful or missed the mark by a hair. HB will sell millions of copies before the end of the year -- that's a given. Will it stand the test of time? It's a question that continuously plagues us when discussing Post's music. The type of adventurous collaborative work, strange pairings and musical deviation could be a record for unseen success or an instance of 'what-could-have-been.' In the case of Hollywood's Bleeding, it's a little bit of both. There are singularly perfect moments while the album as a whole takes a back seat to its lead singles-- this isn't the first time Post has faced this conundrum.
In short, Hollywood's Bleeding is not a bad album. It not only proves that Post Malone can still create an impactful album but it also speaks to his curation skills. Post knows that he needs to take risks to continue evolving as an artist. He did so by inviting Ozzy Osbourne to the studio and teaming him up with Travis Scott. We're just hoping the evolution continues well into Post's next album.
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