Post Malone’s career has been anything but predictable. A teenage Post, real name Austin Post, arrived on the scene via YouTube. After being seen by millions performing acoustic covers, he released his debut album Stoney in 2016. The record was a huge success, and it wasn’t long before Malone’s building popularity reached a peak with 2018’s beerbongs and bentleys. Featuring hits like Rockstar, and Better Now, it launched the 23-year-old’s career into the stratosphere. His unique singing style paired perfectly with distinctive vocal effects, plus the first-grade production by a host of well-known producers, came together in a winning combination that continued into 2019 with Hollywood’s Bleeding. Three years have past, however. Malone’s distinct sound has been replicated by a multitude of different artists, and aside from a few singles, he has remained relatively quiet, until now.
The album kicks off with an unexpected, but beautiful piano ballad in the form of Reputation. Malone’s vocals soar over the song, as though he’s singing to us in a grand cathedral. The track leads perfectly into lead single ‘Cooped Up’, a tune that sums up the main themes of the record; inner demons, and dealing with an upside down world. Lemon Tree is Malone flexing his country side, crooning clever lyrics about his bad luck, manifesting in him being unable to grow anything but a lemon tree, while others get apples and tangerines. Passages like this intersect the album, and show how far Malone has come from a lyrically point of view. There are still instances of flexing, and playful remarks about the opposite sex on songs like Insane, but many of the songs take a more mature angle.
Of all the features laced throughout the tracklist, a few stand out among the rest. Doja Cat spits low-key bars over I Like You (A Happier Song), reserving her usual energy, but suiting the light and bouncy song perfectly. Fleet Foxes on the other hand provide beautiful harmonies on the song Love/Hate Letter to Alcohol. The track has the operatic scale of a Hans Zimmer score, complete with thumping drums, and orchestral beats. Wasting Angels is another track with this influence, ending on a choral high, with The Kid LAROI providing a passionate verse on someone that he has grown attached to, and lost because of his actions.
While it’s not quite the exciting, fresh sound that it was in 2018, Twelve Carat Toothache is a decent collection of songs, watered down to a point where it’s predictable, but still enjoyable. Lyrically, Malone shines, this being his deepest and most reflective album to date. Nothing seems to be left off the table, and it’s as though the music has been deliberately reduced and refined to allow the words space to be heard. It will be interesting to see where Malone goes next, and whether his country and folk influences will take more precedence in future.
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.