It’s been a mere seven years since Post Malone, AKA. Austin Post, burst onto the music scene with his debut album, but in that time the man has achieved more than most dream of. His sophomore release Beerbongs & Bentleys performed massively, making Post one of the biggest artists of 2018. His success has continued in the years following, and now he has returned with new album AUSTIN.
It’s clear from the first few bars of opener Don’t Understand that listeners are in for a different experience. The space swung acoustic riff along with Post’s lonesome vocals is haunting compared with his previous output. The song opens up towards the chorus section, with additional guitar mixing with the main melody. There’s an air of unplugged Nirvana in his delivery, especially when the string quartet kicks in at the mid point to add depth to the grunge-like main vocal melody. Reverb drenched choral voices open the following track Something Real, a song that brings back the pop edge, but dials down the production to maintain the natural aesthetic. This grandiose sound is continued later on the opening seconds to Novocandy, a track that has an 80s- inspired bass-line and a throwback feeling in Post’s line delivery, which is reminiscent of his debut.
The throwback continues of single Mourning, a moving portrayal of a man who wants to keep his problems at bay by forcing them down with drink and drugs. Musically, the bass-heavy kicks and trap-esc high-hats call back to Post’s earlier work, but there’s a maturity in the lyrics that was lacking previously. Socialite is another acoustic led, mid-tempo ballad that melds folk and rap seamlessly. Vocally, Post’s voice floats above the instrumental, adding a fragility to his performance. Hold My Breath strikes a similar tone, but takes a slower approach, while Enough Is Enough embraces the pop side of country and folk music, using bright synth and backing harmonies to lift it from its acoustic confines. Green Thumb brings back the multiple guitar performances interacting together to create a heavenly bedrock for Post’s mournful story, before finale Laugh It Off incorporates everything that come previously, culminating in not only a fitting end sonically, but emotionally.
Post Malone has always shown a side of his acoustic and rock influences in his music, but AUSTIN takes it to the next level. Although not always connecting in a way that is harmonious with both genres, for the most part Post has managed to meld folk, country, and modern pop stylings together in a cohesive way. There are experiments here that don’t completely land, but there are plenty of tunes that do, and even some that have a larger impact overall.
Writer and Musician, Ryan Bulbeck has been published with a number of online publications, and has worked with a myriad of great artists, both as a performer, and as a producer. His most recent band The 295 are still active, playing shows around the UK.