By Jarrad Levy
Post Malone is weird. I think he is one of the most unique and talented artists in the sphere of modern pop music… when he’s on. Despite the fact that songs like “Sunflower,” “Psycho,” and “Stay” are artistically brilliant and represent his variability of styles and sounds, the gems of Post Malone’s catalogue are few and far between, and on his third album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, Post Malone once again produces some really awesome individual songs, but fails to craft a truly excellent album.
The opening and titular song of Hollywood’s Bleeding is fantastic, with a hauntingly beautiful opening and a chilling beat switch that transitions the song into a club banger. The track is entirely unique and has quickly become a favorite song of mine in Post’s arsenal. Post Malone continues the trend of unique songs with tracks like “Saint-Tropez” — where he retains his signature, auto-tuned and downer style, but is able to detach his vocals from the backing tracks at certain points to keep his sound unique — and “Take What You Want” — where Ozzy Osbourne is not only a vocal feature, but scorches the listener with an electric guitar solo. It is in these unique songs that a listener can really see that unlike many other pop artists and rappers, Post Malone is a student of music and truly appreciates the greats who came before him (check out him covering Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” with Twenty One Pilots from Reading & Leeds Festival here).
“Enemies” and the hit single “Goodbyes” ignite my second major issue with Post Malone. He often ruins fantastic songs with absolutely terrible guest features. While Ozzy Osborn, Halsey, and SZA continue to demonstrate their talent and uniqueness on Hollywood’s Bleeding, “artists” like DaBaby and Young Thug ruin otherwise great songs. “Enemies” is a really strong club-pop song until Lil Baby ruins the vibe with his nonexistent flow and “Goodbyes” is a touching and emotional plea for help until Young Thug runs in with his upbeat and nasally voice and absolutely cringe-worthy “yee yee yee!” at the end of his verse. This is a trend that can be seen both in Post’s older work and Hollywood’s Bleeding and is easily my biggest issue with him as an artist.
Aside from the album’s very strong positives and extremely depressing lows, Hollywood’s Bleeding is easily Post Malone’s darkest album, with the monster hit, “Sunflower,” and single “Wow.” being the only two real upbeat songs on the 17-track release. Most of the songs discuss loss of some kind and dive deep into mental health and emotional awareness — especially for a pop album. This is a trend that can be seen through much of Post’s work and is something I really commend him for, as it would be easy to capitalize off of his last album and make mediocre songs about being rich and famous like so many others before.
Ultimately, while Hollywood’s Bleeding is not the best album, it is exactly what I expected from Post Malone: an entirely unique collection of some fantastic songs and others that I wish to never hear again. While most casual listeners will likely find no issue with the album and accept it for what it is, I find it difficult to be content with a mediocre album when Post is so capable of excellence. “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” “Allergic,” and “Take What You Want” will be in my rotation for a long time to come, while I’ve already been jamming to “Wow.” “Sunflower,” and “Circles” since their respective releases. If you’re a fan of Post Malone, you’ll like the album. If you’re a fan of music, you’ll love some of the album.