×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Album Review: Post Malone’s ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’

The follow-up to 2018’s "Beerbongs & Bentleys" mostly goes to softer places, but he still wants to nurture his bad-boy side, too.

You’re a Northern-born rapping singer on somewhat of a Southern tip, melding country, rock, hip-hop and modern soft soul into one frothy whole. You’ve gone platinum many times over, with 2016’s “Stoney” and 2018’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys,” for that same sandy mix and its drowsy drawl. On your brand new album, you’re playing host to Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott. And yet you’ve still managed to not become Kid Rock.

Congratulations, Post Malone. And welcome, everyone, to “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” a cushier, dammed near respectable take on his usual tortured soul-wronged mien, with enough caramel sweetness in a majority of its melodies to differentiate his past from his present.

That in 2019 Malone has managed to keep his head down and nose clean of old controversies such as cultural appropriation charges, or of choosing Dylan lyrics over hip-hop texts, does not hurt when it comes to the clearer, gentler focus of “Hollywood’s Bleeding.”

Then again, Malone seems something of a trap Teflon Don, untouchable and unstoppable. His oddly unthreatening face tats and unique fashion sense would point toward Malone having a hard rapper’s sartorial sensibility, yet his doughy sotto voce is as round as his face, and just as comforting.

In pop, there’s no better thing to be than a comfort. Happily, Post still has to have a call, a tic, a hint of rap’s danger to merit the tattoos and what they should represent. So like Drake — whom Malone emulates in one of the new songs, “Wow,” with its sinewy, reed-thin melody, talking bridges and icy breeziness — Post owns and operates the refined trap-pop vibe, the polished gem of hip-hop.

That he’s been offering glimmers of this subdued sound since “Congratulations,” from his 2016 album “Stoney” (a song he references during “Wow” with its cocksure dis of all who doubted his prowess), shows how cleverly he’s honed and chopped away at this distillation. He’s made us aware of his sonic progress and purification process step by step with a series of singles between “Beerbongs” and “Bleeding.”

Sure, he’s still willing to “be the bad guy now,” during the windy AutoTune-d pop of “Circles,” a swishy sound almost unusual to the Malone canon, and a far cry from the ratty rapping of early semi-smashes such as “White Iverson.” But the loping rhythms and strummed guitar orchestra are nearly as romantic as his lyrics here, with Malone whisper-crooning lines such as “Seasons change and our love went cold / Feed the fame, ’cause we can’t let go.”

The wobbly “Die for Me”  — with Halsey and Future in the VIP section, with their own forms of braggadocio  on display — finds Malone lost, lonely and a little bit disgusted that his “love at first sight” got him arrested (“But at least when I was in jail, I got some rest in”). Kudos to Halsey for doing more with her guest appearance here on the line “I sold 15 million copies of a break-up note” than in her entire career.

Even the wifty title track, for all of its nattering talk of metaphorical vampires in the Hollywood hills, gives off a sense of longing for someone Malone senses he’ll never get back: “You never took the time to get to know me / Was scared of losing something that we never found.”

Beyond lover-boy romanticism, there’s ruminating introspection to be found on this third Post album. Take “Myself,” with its vintage soul vibe and inward-looking chorus of “It’s what it is, it’s how I live / All the places I’ve been / I wish I could’ve been there myself.” Maybe Malone is realizing that being such a dick for so long has kept him from the romance he craves in “Circles.” Then again, Malone goes off on its verses, spouting, “All of this American dreaming / Everybody’s sick of believing / Let’s not give a f— ’til giving a f— has no meaning.” So maybe now he’s cool with being a dick to the American Dream as a whole, rather than one or two women.

Putting Travis Scott and Ozzy Osbourne together on the shuddering, metal-filled “Take What You Want” seems like something of a prank until Oz gets all monster-y with the line “Why don’t you take what you want from me?” The song’s crackle and thunder might sound out of place on “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” but there are so many mixed bags here — the quaint synth-pop of “Staring at the Sun” with its soulful fragrance notes courtesy SZA; the late ’90s indie-rock feel of “Allergic” — that almost nothing sounds too in place to begin with.

The quivering voice of “Goodbyes” relies on Malone’s love of all things Nirvana in which to make comparisons to a messy relationship (“Me and Kurt feel the same, too much pleasure is pain / My girl spites me in vain, all I do is complain). Though Malone tries to remove himself on “Hollywood’s Bleeding” from the body bags and violated women he made famous on 2018’s “Beerbongs,” guest star Young Thug’s high-pitched raps bring Post right back to the start with his “slice you and dice you” lyrics. Malone does his best at old school romanticism with the line “I’m no good at goodbyes” and a sound softer than cotton balls, but a murderous power ballad is a murderous power ballad, even if the lead singer is doe-eyed in love with his victim.

So for the most part, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” portrays Post Malone as being on his best behavior, a brushed-denim croon-rapper tamed by trap-pop and a wont for love that seems ever so slightly out of reach. Yet there’s still that bad boy thing he’s got to get out of his system.

“I’m Gonna Be” has a sweet sway similar to “Circles” in its pillowy guitar lines and a catchy chorus that only semi-rages with “I’m gonna be what I want / I’m gonna do what I want, when I want, when I want — yeah.” Which is cool, until Malone gets all haughty and Sinatra-like on the verse: “Pop the top, fill my cup up, yeah / Keep ‘em pourin’ ’til I’m f—ed up, oh yeah.” Frank put it more elegantly, but you get the point.

Popular on Variety

Album Review: Post Malone’s ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’

More Music

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Rob Thomas Sammy Hagar

    Sammy Hagar Joins Rob Thomas for 'Smooth' Performance (Watch)

    Who do you call when your pal Carlos Santana has plans on a Friday night? If you’re Rob Thomas, you recruit another famous friend, rocker Sammy Hagar, who turned up to help the singer close out the latest show of his Chip Tooth Smile tour with a performance of “Smooth” at the Fox Performing Arts [...]

  • US record producer The-Dream arrives for

    Top Music Publishers Come Together for Songs of Hope Honors

    The 15th annual Songs of Hope honors united songwriters, music industry insiders and more than a few preeminent doctors at producer Alex Da Kid’s Sherman Oaks compound on Thursday night. Jimmy Jam returned to host the event, which served as a fundraiser for the ever-vital City of Hope medical treatment center as well as a [...]

  • Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Takes Beatles' 'White Album'

    Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Gets Back to '68 by Touring Beatles' 'White Album'

    The 50th anniversary re-release of 1969’s “Abbey Road” may be just days away, but that doesn’t mean Beatles fans have been there and done that when it comes to celebrating ’68. Todd Rundgren, the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz, Badfinger’s Joey Molland and several other name musicians of a certain vintage are teaming up to go out [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content