First rising to prominence with “White Iverson,” Post Malone established himself as a pop trap sensation where many others could have easily sunk into the churning tides of one-hit wonderdom. After releasing “Stoney” and having every song on his second album, “beerbongs & bentleys,” chart, however, there was no question of Austin Richard Post’s staying power. In October of last year, Post released “Sunflower,” which features Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd. The bright and bubbly synth pop-influenced song was a quintessential part of the “Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse” soundtrack, and has remained a fixture on the Billboard Hot 100 charts ever since.
“Hollywood’s Bleeding,” Post Malone’s third album, is a somewhat different, yet familiar exploration for the artist. The cover art is appropriately menacing, featuring Posty turning away from the camera in a dark leather jacket as he stands beneath a dungeonesque archway ?— swords and skeletons strewn behind. The record is infused with Post Malone’s signature compressed vocal melodies over hip-hop and pop trap instrumentals, and features a dark undercurrent revolving around breakups, drug use, and the troubles of fame. It isn’t all dark, Byronic brooding, however, there are lighter and uplifting songs towards the latter half with tracks like “I’m Gonna Be,” a song about self-confidence, or “Staring at the Sun,” which features SZA and focuses on optimistically moving on from heartbreak. This stretch is also where “Sunflower” finds a spot on the album.
Instrumentally, the record often incorporates guitars and bright synths alongside primarily hip-hop percussion. There are spots where Post pulls from bedroom pop, doo wop, indie rock, synth pop, and more. Post, of course, isn’t a stranger to varying genre and voice. He’s frequently spoken about his affinity for rock music and performed with a live band for the Bud Light Dive Bar Tour. While it pulls from various genres, it’s a pop album for sure. The production is expensive, Post’s vocals are always the most present part of the mix, and the choruses are explosive. That’s part of its finesse as an album. Even though it’s pulling from a lot of places, it never sounds too out of place. Who else could put Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott on the same song and make it work?
The title track begins with a brooding tone, some light strings and bass, and distant backing vocals before a quick drop into hip-hop percussion. Post sings, “Hollywood’s bleeding, vampire’s feedin’ / Darkness turns to dust” as he injects dark melodies about drugs, howling at the moon, and demons over cinematic instrumentals. There’s a quick mention of “blood in the lambo” in the verse, and for a second you almost wonder how this guy was featured on the Spider-man soundtrack instead of some urban fantasy film or the upcoming Spawn movie.
“Saint-Tropez” features light horns sunk in the mix, drenched in delay and reverb. It’s a pop trap song with absurdly flexing lyrics, “Versace boxers on my dick / Bud Light runnin’ through my piss.” The song “Enemies” is instrumentally composed of light, tropical keys and strings alongside a kick, snare, hats, and clap. It’s about fair weather friends and how they turn to enemies. Dababy raps on a verse, “Friends are like the autumn, ever year they leavin’.” Post applies an indie-rock sound on songs like “Allergic,” where a guitar-centric verse with pop punk adjacent melodic vocals trade off with a thick bass, percussive warped vocal sample, and pumping drums on the chorus. It’s a song about a tumultuous romantic relationship, “So sad but true, you’re friends with all my demons / The only one that sees them, too bad for you.”