beerbongs & bentleys is more of the same from Post Malone and you know what? That’s okay.
Post’s melodies are nonpareil as usual, reminiscent of early Kid Cudi’s ability to create a soaring, catchy melody out of thin air, replete with strategic harmonies and counterpoints. That, combined with the full backing of Republic Records (securing him access to top-notch production and features), is a potent pop combo — the perfect storm. This will be the album of the summer commercially, if not future summers as well.
The track list is certainly a little bloated, but in the age of streaming manipulation this is to be expected, and I don’t see this trend going away anytime soon. Given the length of the album, I’ll list the stronger tracks:
“Paranoid” is an excellent introduction, setting the tone for the album without Post shooting his wad straight out of the gate.
“Rich and Sad” is the clear high water mark on the record, immeasurably catchy and fun. If I had to predict the next hit from beerbongs & bentleys, it would be this track.
You’ve already heard “rockstar.” If not, how have you avoided it?
“Over Now” somehow reminds me of Nickelback and their ilk (not as much of an insult as it sounds). It’s probably the angriest Post has ever sounded, which is a mood I find suits his music surprisingly well. It’s a good lesson in how to experiment within his niche without things falling apart.
“Psycho” didn’t reach the commercial heights of “rockstar,” but I’ve found that it has grown on me significantly more over time. The section where he breaks through the register around the one-minute mark never again to reach those melodic heights is an excellent piece of well crafted songwriting.
“Better Now” is a clear highlight, with (relatively) interesting production and a dark, bouncy hook.
“Stay” is gorgeous, flooded with major seventh chords and wilting call-and-response harmonies — much more harmonically engaging and complex than his previous acoustic outings “Leave” and “Feeling Whitney.”
“Same Bitches” is a fun “guilty pleasure” type of song, but I cannot in good conscience praise a song featuring G-Eazy.
The rest of the tracks range from pleasant but forgettable to simply not good. There is a fine line between cohesion and variety in an album and Post tends to lead too far towards the former.
It is pretty clear throughout beerbongs & bentleys that Post Malone has nothing that interesting to discuss, but there is still a place for his brand of well constructed music that addresses common pop tropes — love, excess and heartbreak. Some songs, such as “Paranoid” and “Jonestown (Interlude),” make a half-assed attempt to branch out lyrically, but he fails to really say anything of meaning in either.
I will note that Post Malone has recently been placed under scrutiny for his comments that were considered by many to be disrespectful to the art form and culture of hip hop. These comments, in conjunction with the image he has created and his commercial success, have led many to accuse of him of being a “culture vulture” and of benefiting off of cultural appropriation. This is a topic I would not touch with a ten-foot pole other than to acknowledge its presence, as I don’t feel particularly qualified to comment on it — I write about music, not sociology. I’ll leave to the reader to judge for yourself as to whether this is a concern for you. If you’re really itching for some commentary on that, I’m sure the forthcoming Pitchfork review will end up sufficing.
To sum it all up — if you already like Post Malone, you should listen to this album. If you don’t like Post Malone’s other work, you probably won’t like this album either. It is a polished, but sometimes tedious summer album, easily digestible and endlessly catchy.