Post Malone’s ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ is frat house bubblegum pop

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Grade: 3.0/5.0    

Since his debut, Austin Post, otherwise known as Post Malone, has been an actively genre-bending artist. Fusing country and pop into his rap tracks, his work has never traditionally fit into either genre. After developing a country-influenced sound with his first album, Stoney, his sophomore album, beerbongs & bentleys breached — nay, championed — into more atmospheric party territory.

Through Hollywood’s Bleeding, which was released on Sept. 6, Post strays even farther away from his rap roots; with pop-friendly melodies and more singing than rapping, the album is filled with short glimpses into the artist’s psyche over the last year since beerbongs & bentleys was released.       

Hollywood’s Bleeding is a relatively short album. With 17 songs, the tracklist clocks in at just under an hour. Each track is effectively produced as a party hit in length and in sound.  

Beginning with the titular anthem “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” the album starts on a darker note. With eerie symbolism, the lyrics are inherently addressing the issues in the culture of Los Angeles’s entertainment industry. Using vampires to reference the life-suckers of show business, Post comments on the drug use and exploitation that unfortunately characterizes the dark side of the industry.

Taking a trap turn on “Saint-Tropez,” Post continues this Hollywood saga by expressing his conflicted love for the opulence that comes with fame. Along with lyrics such as “this shit bliss, I’m so rich,” a hoard of designer brand names and images of wealth are thrown at listeners. 

“Allergic” is possibly the most pop-focused song the artist has ever released. As soon as the lyrics begin, the upbeat guitar chords and overdone drum synchronization bleed pretentious Top 40 pop. The song details an unhealthy relationship but is sugar-coated under sunny beats and radio-friendly production.

Post has a wide variety of features on his third release. From Halsey and Future on “Die for Me,” SZA on “Staring at the Sun” and Young Thug on “Goodbyes,” the collaborations are fun in theory, but not always necessary. Although risk-taking can make an album more dynamic, some of the combinations sound too forced for comfort.   

On “Take What You Want,” Travis Scott and Ozzy Osbourne accompany Post in an uncomfortable blend of themes entailing heartbreak and emotional baggage. The tone of Osbourne’s vocals — regardless of how talented the former Black Sabbath singer is — do not at all fit with Post’s style. No matter how hard producers try to fuse the two together, the metal singer’s dramatic grit and vocal clarity sound out-of-pocket next to Scott’s appropriately autotuned and cloudy vocals.

Likewise, Halsey’s place on the album is an awkward insert when paired with Post’s sweeping vocal presence. The two artists’ individual verses are fitting with the rest of the album but the outro chorus shared as a duet between the artists just doesn’t hit right. Halsey’s high-pitch clashes with Post’s deep and breathy tones and the mix drowns out the mild impact Future made at the beginning of the track. 

Not every feature is a bust, however. SZA’s verses on “Staring at the Sun” brew together with Post’s rasp like a cozy morning coffee. In a more atmospheric, sing-along-in-the-car fashion, the feel-good anthem pulls from uplifting 80s pop. This buoyant tone flows into the feature with Swae Lee, “Sunflower.”                   

Expectedly, “Sunflower,” Post’s contribution to the film soundtrack for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” is the best song off of Hollywood’s Bleeding. This song and “Wow.” truly serve their purpose as singles, considering they’re the most worthy of a listen out of all 17 tracks. Post seems to be at his best when he’s doing less rapping and more singing, and the more expositional tracks like “Myself” and “Circles” highlight the artist’s best qualities.          

In all, each song seems to be a brief iteration of Post’s experience as an artist, good and bad. After moving to Utah last year, Post presumably wrote this album as an endearing, retrospective diary of his time in California. Although it seems as if Post Malone’s albums have declined in quality over the years, there are still some good songs to salvage off of Hollywood’s Bleeding

Skylar De Paul covers music. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.