If you go straight to the end of Post Malone’s fourth album (fifth if you include a mixtape) Twelve Carat Toothache, you will hear all 92 seconds of one of his greatest songs, “New Recording 12, Jan 3, 2020” -which at first, maybe kneejerkwise, sounds like Kurt Cobain on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged, but when you listen again another name jumps out at you: the Neil Young of On The Beach, and it promises that if ever Post deluxes his earlier work with demos it might be beyond good. On TCT it leads you back to the piano chords of the self-flagellating opener “Reputation” and Post’s mostly dark and brooding, electronic base, autotuned album.
The sign post here is the entirely remarkable “Love/Hate Letter To Alcohol” with no less than Robin Peckhold (Fleet Foxes) on a brilliantly arranged Americana rethinking as hip style r&b on an echoey translucence, when Malone performed it on SNL (see the video above), it brought down the house and on record it is airy and closeted, like a field that merges into a forest. It is the best song on TCT but not the favorite, the favorite should be the Gunna featured “I Cannot Be (A Sadder Song)” and it sounds like angels in the middle of a nightmare.
But really, TCT is an album with no filler, just before “Sadder” is “I Like You (A Happier Song)” with Doja Cat with its skip to the step, handclapping and while Post has a voice that will never sound overjoyed, still he sounds at ease and Doja is as lovely as you’ve ever heard, and two songs later Malone gets everything he can out of teenage star (Post is 26) The Kid Laroi (he must have heard “Stay”) on “Wasting Angels” -another gorgeous track.
Really, the consistency is remarkably given it was recorded over two years between L.A., New York and the UK. Every song here is a potential hit, every song is both easy electronica and also deeply emotional; the songs are about emotionally messes but they don’t sound thematic, they are part of the same without being the same. Even the funereal “Waiting For A Miracle” fits in and despite big name features, The Weeknd and Roddy Ricch along with those already named, they certainly don’t overwhelm the fine collection
This is the growing Austin Malone’s portion of life (he is about to become a father) and his gun collection makes him a relation to Kid Rock without the Southern bell whistles and Trumpisms, rather an update on cultural addition by subtraction. It works phenomenally on what is Post’s best album to date.
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