Review Summary: Following delays and intense hype, Post Malone's sophomore LP delivers some of his best and worst material yet.
Having only released one EP and one full-length previously, Post Malone’s explosion into mainstream popularity has been nothing to scoff at. And it’s not without reason – following ‘White Iverson’ his steady stream of commercially successful singles have demonstrated he's far more than a one hit wonder. After releasing the similarly popular and far better ‘rockstar’, anticipation for his sophomore effort continually grew in intensity. That excitement has paid off to an extent, as Beerbongs and Bentleys
is better written, produced and performed than the spotty debut Stoney
, though it also carries some below average moments amongst a bloated tracklist.
As expected, Post’s fantastic vocals are a highlight of this record, blending his trademark throaty vibrato, belted choruses and sung-rap flows to great effect. Opening track ‘Paranoid’ demonstrates his range and skill well, with an equally catchy and introspective chorus reminiscent of ‘I Fall Apart’. On ‘Takin’ Shots’. Here, he adopts a Migos-style flow over a minimalist club-worthy beat, which works great except for some cringe inducing lyrics that at one point rhyme “three suns” with “threesome” (yes, really). His voice also shines over an acoustic guitar part on ‘Stay’, which has convinced me of the potential success in a purely acoustic Post Malone project. Even his background vocals are excellent, particularly on ‘Over Now’ where he shows off an underutilised vocal range and impressive grit. The only moments where the vocals fall short are where they stay within Post’s lower register, like on the monotonous single ‘Psycho’.
The features on this album turned out quite nicely for the most part too. Nicki Minaj’s verse on ‘Ball For Me’ carries all of her swagger and thankfully none of her obnoxiousness. G-Eazy and YG also make for an excellent contrast on ‘Same Bitches’, a clear contender for banger of the album. 21 Savage’s verse on ‘rockstar’ is certainly icy and complementary to the beat, but his attempt at the sung rap approach does take on an unflatteringly amateur character. While the album’s features are certainly an improvement over his debut, I’m slightly disappointed that Post abandoned the hinted John Mayer collaboration – while it sounds bizarre on paper, given how well ‘Stay’ turned out it’s a feature that might have made sense.
The instrumentals themselves have also improved significantly since the debut, with a more interesting range of sounds and richer production. This is evident as early as the second track ‘Spoil My Night’, a song similar in style to the previously released ‘Déja Vu’. Here, an off-kilter watery instrumental works fantastically over rumbling bass and percussion, creating an actually engaging blend of tropical pop and Drake-style pop rap. On ‘rockstar’ the dark, minimalist aesthetic works fantastically under Post’s low-key flow, and it’s a sound I’d hoped would be capitalised on more, though ‘Ball For Me’ does fill that criteria to a lesser extent and is certainly a highlight.
However, for all the improvements Beerbongs
makes to Post Malone’s sound, it also contains its fair share of missteps. ‘Otherside’ is performed with contagious level of boredom, as though it was actually intended to be a skippable deep cut, though at least it made me retreat to the Red Hot Chili Peppers song. Additionally, while it isn’t a bad song, the now year-old ‘Candy Paint’ feels out of place on Beerbongs
, sticking out like a sore thumb near the album’s end. Following this, closing track ‘Sugar Wraith’ sounds grossly similar to ‘Patient’ from his debut, which is nowhere near a good enough song to rip off, and an outright bad conclusion to the album. These songs all could have and probably should have been cut, especially given that this album is eighteen tracks long.
is a mixed bag. While the batch of songs here is generally better than on Stoney
, there’s still an inconsistency of quality that’s only made more obvious by the album’s unnecessary length. Post has proven here that his voice is fantastic and that it’s well-suited both to acoustic and hip hop instrumentation, but he’s already shown this skill on his debut and in live performances. Beerbongs
contains a fair few highlights, and is definitely a promising progression, but how Post changes his sound from here will likely determine whether he keeps his massive popularity in years to come.