With a pair of multi-platinum albums and a slew of radio hits under his belt, Post Malone finally managed to match the quality of his output with a mainstream love on his third set, Hollywood's Bleeding. While Malone's remarks are all present -- his basic hip-hop/rock sound and sad guy image are still at the fore -- he strikes a more well-honed balance to great effect. Leaning less on the overly dark trap tones and reluctant-star posturing of past works, Malone allows the genre-blending to progress naturally ("Allergic"), his signature vocal trill to soar ("Circles"), and occasionally he even lets himself enjoy his superstar status, like on "Saint-Tropez." Make no mistake: he's by no means suddenly happy here. But instead of hand-wringing and whining about how tough it is to be rich and famous, he's found his voice, hitting out at fake friends and real foes ("Enemies"), failed relationships ("A Thousand Bad Times," "Goodbyes"), and both faceless detractors and a society spiraling down the tubes ("Internet," "Hollywood's Bleeding"). Even though the album could use some trimming -- simply in the interest of retaining your attention -- the big difference this time around is that there's nary a dud to be found. Highlights abound, but the most interesting nuggets are the unexpected treats hiding among fine-tuned hip-hop gems like "Wow" and "On the Road," with Meek Mill and Lil Baby. The aforementioned "A Thousand Bad Times" is a bittersweet ode that might be Malone's peppiest offering to date, while the rollicking "Allergic" is his infectious take on pop-punk. Well-utilized features from Future and Halsey ("Die for Me"), SZA ("Staring at the Sun"), and Swae Lee (the smash hit "Sunflower") all play a part in elevating the effort, but it's a left-field inclusion that provides the album's biggest shock. Eclipsing co-star Travis Scott, Ozzy Osbourne delivers his haunting vocals on the plaintive "Take What You Want," a marquee moment that threatens to steal the show, yet mainly serves to prove how brightly Malone's star shined at the end of the 2010s. There's even an arena-worthy electric guitar solo injected for good measure. More well-executed than his previous releases and undeniably catchy, Hollywood's Bleeding is a huge step forward for the guarded superstar, one that doesn't sacrifice the essential elements that made him such a surprise hitmaker, and pushes him even further into the pop-savvy landscape where he belongs.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung
feat: Swae Lee
feat: Young Thug