I’ll admit to being a snob when it came to Post Malone’s material—admittedly judging a book by it’s cover (and autotune).
However, this week I saw that Hollywood’s Bleeding would be one of the most high profile of the year. I tend to write about albums that a lot more under the radar. “Time to be an album reviewer of the people,” I thought.
Indeed, Post Malone is the unlikely pop artist of the people. Nothing I hear in this album is altogether surprising, but it does surprise me how much I like this album. Post knows how to reach people who like vibey music—like me. His autotuned musings sound like they’re coming from somewhere out in space. And, not to seem out of place, all the cameos on the record are given the same treatment—whether it’s Ozzy Osbourne, Travis Scott or SZA. He also focuses on making earworms meant to get the people singing along before they lose interest, but you probably didn’t need me to tell you that.
How much longevity will this album have for my listening habits? It’s hard to say. First impressions that are “wow” aren’t always lasting, and likewise first impressions that are “meh” often change too.
Thematically, the record seems to be Post reckoning with being an A-List celebrity. The title track starts out slow and melancholy, and then speeds up the tempo, indicating that although it’s hard being at the top, he’s making the best of it and trying to enjoy life.
The track “Enemies” is a modern take on the oft-quoted line from The Godfather: “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” The Post Malone twist on this line is “Used to have friends now I have enemies / Used to keep them close now they dead to me.” Not really the same thing, I know, but he seems to be mourning the loss of folks he was once close to, and even perhaps implying he would still like to keep them close in spite of the change in circumstance.
One of my favorite cuts from this record is the single “Circles,” which has a gnarly bass line carrying Post as he laments in a catchy minor key. Heartbreak is a theme that will never get old in pop music—especially when they take a painful topic and spin it into something so enjoyable to listen to. I think Post Malone’s move from Hollywood to Utah is inspiring him to think outside the box a bit on these songs—I noticed some little nuggets in the production here that I didn’t hear the first time. Come to think of it, his move probably inspired his “birds eye view” perspective of the Hollywood he explores throughout the album.
“Gee, Ryan,” you might be thinking. “You’re starting to sound really stream-of-consciousness with your writing, man.” Perhaps. But I’ll say that, love or hate Post Malone, he definitely isn’t that way with his writing. He says what needs to say, and that’s it. And he does so without sounding rushed. Indeed, “Die For Me,” which features Halsey and Future, is the only song on the record to hit the four-minute mark—and even then, there are 2 features of heavy-hitters that get their messages in succinctly and effectively.
Post Malone uses an album to communicate what it’s like to be a major celebrity in a way that the common folk can understand. His demeanor, although unique and quirky, doesn’t stop seeming approachable. And part of being approachable is communicating in a way that is easy to digest. And Post’s records are certainly that—including this one.