Malone’s latest album isn’t as bleak as it suggests, but continues to flex his natural knack for infectious pop melodies.
It’s been four years since Post Malone was predicted a one-hit wonder. His breakout hit “White Iverson” was a SoundCloud smash, and clearly was only the beginning of a fruitful career. Last year’s Beerbongs & Bentleys solidified the genre-blending artist as a streaming lord, carrying two of the four songs streamed over 1 billion times on Spotify. Those numbers come with their credibility considering Post Malone is one of the few artists to shift the pop landscape to a less manufactured, cheesy dynamic. His latest album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, will also have the stats to back it but needs the craftsmanship of Malone’s best work in the music.
Once again, Post Malone manages to create some of the catchiest songs of the year, although doesn’t tap into its full potential thematically.
Hollywood’s Bleeding vaguely establishes itself as a suitable follow-up to the party planet of Beerbongs & Bentleys. Post is now fed up of his extravagent lifestyle, constantly looking over his shoulder as he is surrounded by fake friends and distrust. Just like on B&B, Hollywood’s Bleeding opens up with the best song on the album. Its title track is a nocturnal and dramatic banger, packing a variation of production in its 2-and-a-half minute runtime. Malone’s vocal performances continue to be his selling point, particularly during the latter half of the hook (“We’re running out of reasons, but we can’t let go”). Catchy and varied, the song sets the tone perfectly for the album and its suggestive title.
Plenty of melodic moments ensue. “Saint Tropez” is a straightforward trap song and one of the few featuring Post rapping. It is generic and forgettable on first listen but is later refreshing when compared to the album’s pop machinery. Singles “Goodbyes” and “Circles” boast some of the best hooks, although that is an understatement considering nearly every track on Hollywood’s Bleeding can claim a memorable hook.
Malone amps up the number of collaborations on Hollywood’s Bleeding to deliver compelling combinations. “Take What You Want” brings the worlds of Post Malone, Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott together for a rock showstopper, powering through electric guitar segments, heavy drums and an authoritative hook that compliment all artists involved. “Die for Me” also uniquely pairs Future and Halsey to share the song sensibly with Malone. Future in particular brings his A-game, close to owning the track through channelling the spirit of Future Hendrixx.
Lowkey cuts like “Internet” come with depth, specifically when recalling the fact that Post was close to death when his plane tyres blew out. The track features the touch of Kanye West on the writing side, but also carries the grandiose production of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and West’s “RoboCop”.
Hollywood’s Bleeding is at its poppiest when reaching “Sunflower”, a flimsy track borrowed from the animated Spider-Man soundtrack due to its massive success. The mediocre production lacks seasoning to accompany Swae Lee’s monotone vocals, a testament to the song’s status as manufactured Disney-pop. The preceding track, “Staring at the Sun”, evidently uses the “Sunflower” formula, but is slightly more tolerable due to the cute vocals by SZA and Malone. However, the production lacks seasoning like its sister song. The manufactured identity of these songs is what makes them forgettable amongst the rest of the album, which remains poppy but feels far more natural and unique to Malone’s style.
Hollywood’s Bleeding may have the replay value, but isn’t loyal to a logical resonance. Hollywood’s Bleeding often contradicts its title as it suggests darker connotations but presents summery songs like “Sunflower” and “Staring at the Sun”. Lyrically, Malone reflects on distrust to provide some sort of consistency. Although this doesn’t last for 18 tracks and goes through several detours during play.
Frankly, Post Malone won’t be too concerned with the conceptual inconsistency. He has once again delivered a collection of enjoyable pop songs that maintain artistic integrity. His vocals and melodies continue to shine bright as ever on a tracklist that only warrants a couple skips. The billions of streams are yet again justified.
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Best tracks: “Hollywood’s Bleeding”, “Goodbyes”, “Take What You Want”, “Circles”, “Saint Tropez”, “On the Road”, “Wow”, “Internet”