Following the opening song from Post Malone’s third studio album, I had one question in mind: Is Post Malone OK?
From the dark, visceral album art featuring a skeleton and Malone plastered on what seems to be a tombstone, Posty establishes a thoroughly somber tone even before you press play on “Hollywood’s Bleeding.” If “Beerbongs and Bentleys” and “Stoney” are a wild, intoxicating Saturday night, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” is the hangover following it.
From the opening title track, we’re introduced to a level of sobering introspection that isn’t quite typical for a master of poppy, melodic hooks. “It seem like dying young is an honor/ But who’d be at my funeral, I wonder?”
Throughout the duration of the album, Malone gripes over the empty lifestyle led by the rich and famous, hence the title of the album. The sporadic reflection regarding his place in the music industry, fame, relationships and life as a multi-platinum recording artist gives us a real and refreshing peek into what makes Post Malone tick.
When he allows us to look into his soul across “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” you really feel for Malone. This isn’t a “White Iverson” era Post. This is an artist who’s constantly trapped in a lifestyle that’s seemingly morally void, pushing him to confide in wealth, alcohol and drugs.
Sonically, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” is distinct in relation to the rest of Malone’s discography. Instead of the typical rap/rock fusion usually employed by Post, this project tends to wander closer toward trap and pop melodies.
Although the title, cover art and opening track seem to set a serious, grim mood, much of the rest of the album tends to stray toward radio-friendly tunes. Unfortunately, we sparingly get a real look into Malone’s thoughts about life in the limelight, making the title of the album a tease.
However, Malone trading existential lyrics for catchy pop songs isn’t the worst thing he could do. “Hollywood’s Bleeding” features some extremely catchy tracks including “Enemies,” “Die For Me,” “Sunflower” and “I know.” From DaBaby and Travis Scott to Ozzy Osbourne and SZA, almost every guest on the project is a highlight, complementing Post’s mesmerizing vocals and providing some solid rap verses.
The album’s best moment is easily “Take What You Want.” No one in their right mind would dare put Post Malone, Travis Scott and Ozzy Osbourne on a track together. But somehow, some way, they combine to create a beautiful contrast of genres and styles. Post puts in his best verse on the album, rapping and singing about a girl he compares to a snake. Osbourne and Malone combine to create a duet that is truly exciting to listen to, while Scott’s psychedelic auto-tune verse fits perfectly.
While Malone does undergo a bit of a sonic evolution, his song structure remains painfully formulaic, resulting in listening to the full 51 minutes of “Hollywood’s Bleeding” a chore.
Ultimately, we only get to witness flashes of brilliance on this project. Musically and conceptually, Malone is moving in a positive direction. But the album fails to live up to itself. As the final few seconds of “Hollywood’s Bleeding” come to a close, you’re left wanting more. More insight into Malone’s existential journey in stardom, more sonic variety and more of commitment to the somber sound established in the opening moments of the album. Rating: 5/10.