Post Malone's third studio album Hollywood's Bleeding is upon us. The keg has run dry, leaving only wine. The affair has become, as one might say, refined. It's no secret that Post Malone has developed a reputation within hip-hop circles as somewhat of a periphery figure; choosing to dabble but never truly committed to making the plunge. With influences drawing from punk (and its cousin pop-punk), classic rock, and folk, Posty seemed to approach song-crafting with a different sort of sensibility. 

Tough beerbongs and bentleys found him making strides in mastering the hip-pop hit, it seemed to suffer from a lack of artistic identity. In short, it was difficult to assess whether Posty was truly being himself or simply doing his damndest to fit in. Regardless, Post found himself sitting on one of the year's most accessible albums, winning over a wide variety of demographics, from Bud Light sippers to those operating under a more carb-free lifestyle. Still, some wondered whether Posty was quelling his own artistic instincts in favor of securing the bag. 

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Curiously enough, Post seemed to have undergone a lifechanging shift prior to Hollywood's Bleeding's creation. Deciding to leave Los Angeles in favor of his home base Utah, Post's homecoming felt symbolic in nature. Where beerbongs was ripe with industry fingerprints, Post's decision to depart from the glitz and glamor may be the best thing to happen to him, at least on an artistic level. For someone with as much commercial potential as Posty, you can bet that no shortage of bloodsucking types were eager to intervene on his behalf, offering suggestions and "guidance" at every turn. It's no wonder that beerbongs was such a mainstream lightning rod, albeit one suffering from a subtle yet notable identity crisis. 

Enter Hollywood's Bleeding, an album that will likely prove alienating upon first response. From the moment the first song hits, it becomes clear that guitars and synthesizers will be a notable co-pilot for the duration. Having seen no shortage of Post Malone covers, in which artists like Green Day and Nirvana are repped with great frequency, I can only imagine how liberated Posty must feel on this-go around. Having taken no shortage of scrutiny, with terms like "cultural appropriation" not entirely unfamiliar to his ears, the idea that Post has finally allowed himself to be...himself, feels like a well-earned reward for his loyal fans.

You might not find the immediacy of certain infectious earworms like "White Iverson" and "Rockstar." Instead, Post's latest is surprisingly subtle, more focused on conveying emotion through focused songwriting. Heavily influenced by the aforementioned subgenres of rock and pop, Hollywood's Bleeding feels like an unexpected subversion of expectations, and one that actually merits repeated listens. Not simply habitual listens of the singles, but fully-fledged run-throughs of the entire project. Though it's still too early to make a confident assessment, Hollywood's Bleeding is quite likely Post's most mature body of work thus far. The Frat Boy has become a Frat Man, and not a moment too soon.