April 13, 2024

Only a year after the release of his triple-platinum record “beerbongs and bentleys,” hip-hop giant Post Malone debuted his third studio album, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” on Sept. 6. The album’s artwork and lead title track promised a dark, brooding and even vampiric record, with Malone at his most emotional and vulnerable. The record’s lead singles, “Wow.” and “Goodbyes,” however, seemed to be out of keeping with that theme, leaving the true nature of the record a mystery prior to its release.

Unfortunately, Post Malone’s lack of commitment to a mood is prevalent throughout the record. The project fails to capture and capitalize on the pain projected by Malone himself, instead relying too heavily on sugary tracks, over-saturated lyrics and poor production choices, leaving the record feeling unfocused and bloated.

Out of the gate, the record’s title track shows off a moody, emotionally scarred Malone, haunted by his past and trapped in the Los Angeles atmosphere. With a soaring, straining chorus and a distant, floating echo underlaying the track, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” perfectly encapsulates Malone’s sadness.

The following track, “Saint-Tropez,” completely derails its predecessor’s mood, offering vain, boastful bars over a spacey, pounding beat. Immediately after, “Enemies” feels like a reject from the “beerbongs and bentleys” era- complete with a forced, unnatural guest verse from DaBaby.

Post revisits his mood concept with “Allergic,” producing a punk/emo rock track with a nostalgic, beachy bridge and a jarring, noisy chorus. The track feels almost unfinished but is brimming with potential.

This musical creativity disappears on “A Thousand Bad Times,” “Circles,” “Die for Me” and “On the Road.” The back-to-back features from Future and Halsey and Meek Mill on “Die for You” and Lil Baby on “On the Road” are so uninspired, jarring and poorly mixed into the beat that they ruin the decent chorus work that Malone put into both tracks. 

“Take What You Want” veers sharply into new territory for Malone, teasing a goth, hard rock edge with a striking but strained feature from hard rock legend Ozzy Osbourne and a surprisingly fitting and enjoyable verse from psychedelic trap artist Travis Scott. The track closes out with a chorus of electric guitar riffs that scream over the underlying instrumental. The track is easily the record’s most creative, but it still feels inconsistent.

Post Malone again blows his creative lead with “I’m Gonna Be,” a sugary, radio-friendly track whose only redeeming quality is Malone’s emotional, cracking voice throughout the chorus. “Staring at the Sun” similarly relies solely on radio-playability. Even the feature from SZA isn’t particularly interesting or well-constructed. “Sunflower,” lifted from Post Malone’s work on the soundtrack to 2018’s animated film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” finds its way onto the track list after “Staring at the Sun,” and is similarly sweet and easy.

The soaring, piano-driven ballad “Internet” attempts to soliloquize Malone’s complicated relationship with the internet, but feels lyrically half-baked. The instrumentals are beautiful, but are too contrasting and over-produced compared to the rest of the largely understated record, leaving the track sticking.

Closing out the record are “Goodbyes,” “Myself, “I Know,” and “Wow.” “Goodbyes” and “I Know” flirt with moodiness but languish in high production and flounder with a terrible feature from Young Thug. “I Know” is messy, uncoordinated and forgetful, and “Wow.,” the album’s sole “banger,” sounds ridiculous in context of the rest of the record and closes out the album without a second thought to the dark tone that the record tried to grasp at.

At only 51 minutes, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” is Post Malone’s shortest record, but it feels like his longest. The lack of genre-bending creativity from “Stoney” and fiery beats from “beerbongs and bentleys” leaves the record feeling awkward and homeless in Malone’s discography. The album isn’t one thing or many things – it seems just to be a playlist of half-baked ideas, moods, bloated tracks and loose features.

For a third record in a row, Post Malone displays that he has the capability of creating an interesting, conceptual record but blows the lead by stuffing the record with meaningless radio-friendly singles and tone-killing fluff. All said, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” is little more than a bloody mess.

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