Post Malone Enlists SZA, Ozzy, and More for Third LP

Hollywood’s Bleeding is a fun listen that doesn’t quite meet it’s full potential.

Post Malone’s rise to the higher tiers of the hip-hop world has been relatively quick. From his 2015 breakout single, “White Iverson,” to his subsequent major label debut, Stoney in 2016, Malone quickly made a name for himself as a reliable producer of atmospheric, beat-centric tracks which make a perfect soundtrack for late night driving, or late night drinking, depending on your preference. Some have criticized his approach as being quantity over quality, and his music as “sonic wallpaper,” that isn’t meant to be listened to as much as played in the background. This reputation was crushed by 2018’s Beerbong’s & Bentley’s, one of the best rap albums of the year, which put Post on the map as serious hitmaker and a reliable producer of fun, danceable bangers. Now, with just a year for turnaround, we have yet another nearly hour long project in Hollywood’s Bleeding which, for the most part, lives up to its predecessor. 

Definitely the most significant improvement on this LP comes in the form of the strong and varied instrumentals. From the unpredictable switches on the opening title track to the genuine rock and pop influences on cuts like “Allergic,” and my favorite track, “Circles.” Post has often discussed his wide base of influences and has incorporated them into his music with a mixture of success, but his blend of pop rock and hip-hop is genuinely brilliant and provides an excellent variety over the long album.

Speaking of rock influences, the feature list on this LP has a few surprising names, to say the least. Future and Halsey turn in solid verses on “Die for Me,” and SZA is impeccable as usual on “Staring At The Sun,” but it’s Ozzy Osbourne’s appearance on “Take What You Want,” which has captivated listeners in the days since the album’s release, and for good reason: It works far better than anyone would’ve imagined. Ozzy sounds fantastic and his hook, though short, is commanding and powerful. This is all not to mention the roaring guitar solo that closes the track.

Beyond his features, Malone proves once again on this album that he’s one of the better vocalists in all of hip-hop. His warbling vibrato is here in spades on tracks like “I’m Gonna Be,” but I found myself far more impressed by the powerful belts on tracks like “Enemies,” and “On The Road.” Again, those rock influences rear their heads as he digs into his vocal cords a bit more to achieve a gritty, dynamic tone.

As one would expect, however, this album hinges quite a bit on Post’s status as one of the best hook writers in the business and, thankfully, this record is packed with singable ear-worms. “Saint-Tropez,” and “A Thousand Times,” feature some of the catchiest choruses of the year and virtually every second of the closer, “Wow,” is nothing short of addictive.

Sadly, this album really dives off of a cliff in the latter half. Easily the worst issue comes in the lyrics. The writing on tracks like “Internet,” and “I Know,” just feels lazy and uninventive, while the lyrics on “Myself,” are just bizarre and relatively meaningless, which doesn’t help a track which is already on shaky ground, sonically.

Additionally, there are some terrible features. I’ve never personally been a fan of Swae Lee’s work on “Sunflower,” despite it’s success as a single, as his voice is as bland and uninteresting as ever. This doesn’t compare, however, to Young Thug dropping yet another unlistenable verse on  “Goodbyes.” I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed a verse from Young Thug, and his unnerving howl is completely out of place on the otherwise inoffensive effort.

Ultimately, this album is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, Post has developed several elements which peaked out on the last release. He’s taking his wide-ranging influences more seriously, successfully incorporating rock and folk in a brilliant way. He also has lost a step in his talent for writing excellent hooks and working with strong features, for the most part.

Unfortunately, he’s still failed to learn from the mistake which has plagued every single release in his catalog: his insistence on including seemingly every idea that comes to his mind on the final album line-up. Because of this, the record is far too long with poor pacing, and the entire last third, with the exception of the closer, feels entirely half baked and underdeveloped.

Despite this, the album is a blast. Its shining moments are blinding and its weak points can easily be ignored. It’s just a shame that poor pacing and a few annoying features keep the LP from living up to its predecessors.

Hollywood’s Bleeding is a fun listen that doesn’t quite meet it’s full potential.

6/10

Advertisements

Miley Cyrus Drops Yet Another Directionless, Hot Mess

SHE IS COMING is a half-baked, hot mess that is fluctuates between boringly safe and confoundingly awful.

Miley Cyrus is country/pop singer from Nashville, Tennessee. She rose to massive fame as the most prominent figure in Disney’s mid-2000’s class of musical stars. Under the Hannah Montana moniker, she released five LPs full of relatively inoffensive pop music alongside three fairly similar releases under the Miley Cyrus name. Having released five albums by the age of 18, Miley seemed to feel a bit boxed in as the character she’d played on Disney Channel. She quite admirably broke this box with her 2013, triple platinum album, Bangerz, which was vulgar and daring, if a bit meandering. This was followed by the horrendously bloated Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz which received a limited release and her much tamer, full scale follow up, Younger Now in 2017. While Miley’s recent work has been commendable in its effort to push boundaries and change her public image, it’s largely felt aimless and thoughtless and virtually never takes advantage of her genuinely impressive vocal abilities. SHE IS COMING is no exception.

The EP opens with “Mother’s Daughter,” which is perhaps the only listenable cut on the tracklist. The trap drums play quite well against the spacey, piano-driven instrumental and Miley’s vocal performance is actually quite strong. The vocal tuning is entirely over the top and the lyrics are atrocious, but the hook is somewhat singable and Miley seems closer to a middle ground between her pop sensibilities and edgy desires than she has in the past.

“Unholy,” follows and a few of the issues with this project start to become apparent fairly quickly. The change in producers from track to track robs it of any possible coherence and Miley’s breathy, hissing vocal is extremely overproduced. The trap drums entirely overpower every melodic element, though none of them are interesting enough to warrant being pushed to the front of the mix. Worst of all, the lyrics on this cut are just awful, and the entire song sounds completely half baked, as does much of the EP.

“D.R.E.A.M.,” falls in the middle of the project and is one of the most disjointed messes of a song I’ve ever heard. While the chorus is admittedly catchy, Miley’s voice is once again breathy and overproduced as she sings over a hokey piano line which could fit comfortably on a High School Musical soundtrack. The only possible saving grace for the track would seem to be the feature from Wu-Tang alum, Ghostface Killah, but instead he phones in a short, unrelated verse on a completely different instrumental which only takes up that 20 or so seconds.

“Cattitude,” is the forth track on the EP and an absolute dumpster fire in musical form. Every single element, from the bizarre and endless RuPaul feature, to Miley’s embarrassing attempt at rapping on the verses, to the horribly vulgar lyrics is simply unlistenable. I can’t fathom how anyone let this song leave the studio’s doors but luckily for the listeners, it seams to be the rock bottom for the record.

“Party Up The Street,” sees Mike Will Made-It taking over production duties for the only well produced song on the tracklist. Swae Lee’s feature is flat throughout the entire track and the instrumentation is boring and uninventive, but a few of the melodies are genuinely well-written and it seems to be the only cut that anyone actually cared about. It serves as a welcome switch up from the aggressively terrible tracks that precede it.

The project closes with “The Most,” which is fairly inoffensive, though it offers little by way of intriguing ideas. The chorus is fairly well-written and features some of the only passible lyrics on the EP and Miley finally gives an impressive vocal performance, which has been lacking from every song thus far. That being said, its still quite overproduced and uninventive and features an irritatingly nondescript synth lead covering the majority of the melody.

Ultimately, this EP is a mess. It somehow finds a way to feel lazy and half-baked yet overproduced and soulless at the same time. Miley’s recent career has been full of spinning wheels without a track, but SHE IS COMING is the worst in this regard. I don’t see any audience for this or even a reason for it to exist.

SHE IS COMING is a half-baked, hot mess that is fluctuates between boringly safe and confoundingly awful.

1/5