Post Malone is the epitome of the modern rapper – essentially because he rarely actually raps. If stripped of the numerous effects lathered onto his husky timbre in the
production process, Malone’s vocals would not be out of place in folk or country music, and his beloved acoustic guitar belies a sweet spot for authenticity in songwriting. So why has he narrowed himself down to Hip Hop?
I think the answer is that he hasn’t. It’s us, the critics and listeners, who restrict him to that category. He blends aspects from numerous genres, even though his lyrics never stray far from the rap sector. It is this past unpredictability which makes Beerbongs & Bentleys
somewhat disappointing. Swathes of dreamy, downcast synths permeate the record, causing each track to bleed into the next, almost as if the project could be one hour-long
The vocals are uninventive, with each track sounding derivative of the two lead singles, ‘Psycho’ (ft. Ty Dolla $ign) and ‘rockstar’ (ft. 21 Savage). To an extent the album suffers at the expense of the latter’s immense popularity. Is Post Malone playing it safe by sticking to his proven formula, or simply honing his sound? Either way, there is definitely more room for risk-taking.
The subject matter is equally as limited, with Malone adopting the lonely king persona as he boasts hollowly about his hedonistic lifestyle, before dispelling this shroud of glitz, and revealing the despair that his fame has brought in the form of broken relationships and paranoia about losing it all. Although these glimpses into the artist’s mind are undoubtedly intriguing to the listener, the concept has been exhausted over the past few years. When rappers first started utilising the shadows to complement the sheen of their glamorous lifestyles, an art which the likes of Kanye West, Drake and Kid Cudi all mastered, it was novel and moving.
Post Malone is halfway there, but Beerbongs & Bentleys lacks the sparks of excitement it needs to be considered a great album. Don’t get me wrong, odes to the good life are packed in aplenty, but they are all delivered through the same murky haze as the laments, so it cannot help but sink into monotony. Individually, ‘Otherside’ is a production highlight, while Nicki Minaj wins the battle of the features with her fiery contribution to ‘Ball on Me’. ‘Stay’ is a psychedelic, guitar-driven ballad in the mould of Malone’s 2016 hit ‘I Fall Apart’. The track is expertly stripped back, leaving in the spotlight the singer’s talent for stringing vocal pirouettes together to form soaring hooks and and glittering, raw verses. ‘Candy Paint’, which was used on the Fast and Furious 6 soundtrack, is a feel good anthem that’s been given delicate treatment in terms of accompaniment, and it flourishes as a result. Unfortunately, it ends up serving as an exception, rather than a common feature.
This album is easy to listen to, and contains numerous examples of attractive melodies, atmospheric production and soul-baring lyrics. The hooks are undoubtedly awesome and dynamic, and are enjoyable in isolation. It is a solid, well-constructed piece, but with few surprises. As a whole the project suffers from a lack of diversity both in the vocals and the production, leaving you with little motivation to maintain your stamina until the 18th and final track.