Hollywood’s bleeding, he’s calling it home and he’s back with new music.
On Friday, hip-hop icon Post Malone released his third studio album — a 17-track blend of hip-hop, pop and Black Sabbath rock. From ballads and bangers to sweeping orchestral arrangements and boy band pop tunes, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” is a strong collection of music that proves Malone isn’t afraid to step outside of his comfort zone as an artist. While some tracks fall back into the standard formula he used throughout “Stoney” and “Beerbongs & Bentleys,” there are enough standout moments on the record to prove that Malone still has more to share with his listeners.
The album opens with the eponymously titled intro track, “Hollywood’s Bleeding.” Often, artists save the album’s best parts for the end, but Malone’s done the opposite. Powerful vocals, no-punches-pulled lyrics and a half-time chorus all come together to form one of the finest moments on the record. “Hollywood’s bleeding, but we call it home,” he sings, viciously critiquing the City of Angel’s culture.
Malone’s ingenuity is on full display in “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” but he returns to an old songwriting model with the album’s third track, “Enemies.” The song opens with a rhythmic pattern of percussive hits that’s almost identical to the pattern that begins “No Option” off Malone’s first album, “Stoney.” As the song continues, Malone’s slightly phased, intentionally shaky vocals layer on top of a pop-esque drum machine, fitting into the blueprint many of Malone’s songs follow. There’s no denying the song is a fun listen — especially with lines like “Laughin’ to the bank like ha, ha, ha / Guess I’m talking too much like blah, blah, blah” — but it’s also predictable and one of the weaker moments on “Hollywood’s Bleeding.”
Stepping outside of the realm of hip-hop, Malone may have taken some notes from boy band 5 Seconds of Summer when writing the record’s fourth track, “Allergic.” His vocals don’t deviate from their standard form, but the musical base is refreshingly pop. The four-on-the-floor drum beat topped with a repeated percussive and vocal ostinato leading into each instrumental break feels reminiscent of material off “Youngblood.” While the track doesn’t differ entirely from the rest of Malone’s catalogue, it’s nice to hear him take influence from a genre he doesn’t usually play in.
Speaking of genre-blending, perhaps the prime example comes as the ninth track, “Take What You Want.” In an unlikely combination, both Black Sabbath lead singer Ozzy Osbourne and hip-hop artist Travis Scott are featured on what’s, at its core, a rock ballad with hip-hop influence. As the song tells the story of a broken relationship, saying, Scott’s trademark auto-tuned vocals and Malone’s new wave hip-hop production sit adjacent to Osbourne’s vocal lines and a screaming guitar solo — shockingly, it works. And not only does it work, it’s the best three minutes of the album.
While there might not be anything that can top the surprise of an Osbourne and Travis co-feature, “Internet” comes pretty close. Co-written by hip-hop legend Kanye West, the song takes a critical look at the effect of the internet on society, but that’s not where the shock factor comes from. After Malone’s had his turn to share his thoughts, his vocals fade as the song transforms from one more Post Malone track to an orchestral composition with all the grandeur of a Michael Giacchino film score.
Coming off the strings, Malone uses “Goodbyes” and “I Know” to bring the album back up to a level typical of his authentically hip-hop tracks, culminating in the album’s closing track, “Wow..” With its heavy-handed production, rap flow and standard drum machines, the song is a regular Post Malone bop. After an album full of genre fusion, unexpected features and several other surprises, it’s fitting that Malone chose to end his latest album with a classic frat house banger.
Contact Jake Conley at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.