The FADER staff on Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding

FADER’s editorial staff offers their takes on Post Malone’s third studio album.

September 09, 2019
The FADER staff on Post Malone’s <i>Hollywood’s Bleeding</i>

Last week, Post Malone’s third studio album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, saw release. The FADER's staff, naturally, has some opinions on Post's latest. Read on for our staffers' takes.

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If I’m being completely honest, I’ve never listened to Post Malone before this morning. I might have heard his music in passing, but I’ve never listened — not even the “Sunflower” song. Considering every music platform labels his stuff as “hip-hop,” I was anticipating a few bars. After listening once through, I feel like Hollywood’s Bleeding warrants an interrogation as to why he’s classified as a rapper when every song on the tracklist opts for risk-averse, smooth-edged pop. If literally any rapper at Post’s level released “Im Gonna Be,” they’d get clowned, justifiably. That being said, Posty’s got a good voice, and the moments I enjoyed the most here were those where he was deploying that millennial vibrato. While listening to Hollywood’s Bleeding on the train, I caught a whiff of someone’s Abercrombie cologne, which managed to lasso the entire project into context for me. That is to say, if I was still in high school, I would consider this a perfectly fine album to bump in my 2001 Subaru Forrester on the way to the mall. In the life that I’m currently living, I’m not so inclined. — Salvatore Maicki

The main issue I have with this Post Malone record is that it feels… just... kind of… pointless. I’m not necessarily mad about it — to be mad about Post Malone in 2019 feels like getting mad about the fact that, like, the internet exists (damn kids and their phones!). But it is frustrating that something with no soul continues to succeed on such a significant level. Not necessarily with the press (who could forget?), but it’s not a stretch to say Hollywood’s Bleeding will stream up the wazoo, and Ozzy Osbourne will soon be able to buy a new car off his feature on “Take What You Want.” It’s watered down music for the grocery store. And that’s fine! We all need to buy cereal to something. And that’s it! I don’t know, man. Kids probably like this a lot. I’m not really sure if there’s any other insightful criticism I can add. He’s fuckin’ Post Malone. In a decade, we’ll all be wondering what the hell the world was doing to have this guy go number one countless times. Until then, enjoy some Fruity Pebbles? — Eric Sundermann

To listen to Hollywood's Bleeding is to picture a 24-year-old millionaire sitting in $1,000 Crocs and complaining about how much he hates the internet, a medium solely responsible for his success. In some ways, the album suggests Post is loosening up a little and moving into sunnier musical climes. "Circles" is Diet Psych-rock while "Allergic" is weirdly reminiscent of the high-pitched part on Elton John's "Crocodile Rock." Both show growth and hint at a world away from the misanthropic fake fog pumped out on the first two Post Malone albums. Similarly, Post's use of Ozzy Osbourne alongside Travis Scott on the better-in-the-press-release "Take What You Want" show a newfound playfulness.

Too often, however, the album gets mired in paranoia and a series of petty gripes. This is best typified by "Internet," a Kanye-penned diatribe aimed at leakers, trolls, and "Instalove." It's a dated two minutes of old man shouts at cloud-core that weighs down an album that should be floating effortlessly. Much better is "Enemies," on which DaBaby pops up to continue his peerless run of guest features, and the loose, carefree "Sant-Tropez." Ultimately Hollywood's Bleeding is a solidifying moment for Post Malone; a collection of playlist-ready hits that will maintain Post's time in the spotlight without ever offering any great reason for him being there in the first place. — David Renshaw

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Three minutes into Hollywood’s Bleeding, one-time YouTube cover artist and inexplicable Trump-era megastar Post Malone sings: “Versace boxers on my dick / Bud Light runnin' through my piss.” It seems like a mission statement of sorts, but sadly Post has more depths to plumb. This overlong, overwrought, overproduced third album drifts by like a hangover, only broken up by oblivious, self-serving one-liners. (“You make my life so hard,” he sings on “A Thousand Bad Times,” which seems simpering until he really digs into the misogyny: “And I don't wanna meet your mama / She prolly crazier than you.”) It’s tempting to say that the vacuousness is the point, but there is no point to this at all. Hollywood’s Bleeding is success without struggle, sadness without sincerity, melody without purpose. Fifty-one minutes of white noise would have been a greater service to humankind. It only makes sense when you see it as an audition tape for Trump’s second inauguration. Maybe this time the money will be right. — Alex Robert Ross

Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding finally answers one of the fundamental music questions of our time: What would Astroworld sound like if it was made by a white guy with face tats. I apologize, zingers about Post Malone’s hygiene and appearance are a lot cornier than the artist himself and the music he makes at this point. Post Malone is really good at making 2019 pop music — that is, he’s really good at taking music from the margins of multiple genres and shaving off its rough edges into palatability for streaming and radio. There’s plenty of songs on here that are completely fine. But my main problem with Hollywood’s Bleeding, and maybe Post Malone overall, is that it sounds like it was made by someone who hates music to be consumed by other people who hate music. — Ben Dandridge-Lemco

It’s far from a sin to create a miserable album. But if the artist is unable to render his joylessness in interesting angles, and the attempts at fun feel tacked on or worse, faked, the resulting project can have the taste of day-old lite beer. Hollywood's Bleeding contains song after song about toxic relationships, paranoia, past struggles, and present disappointments, rendered with a phoned-in, low-resolution misery. The banality succeeds at stifling Malone’s natural charisma while simultaneously reaffirming what made him a star: he’s the rapper white frat boys and Minecraft teens can feel comfortable hanging out with. On Hollywood’s Bleeding, he comes off as your buddy who won’t stop complaining about his on-again, off-again flame. By the end you want to say “Just dump her already, man. Or don’t. I really can’t listen to this anymore. — Jordan Darville

The FADER staff on Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding