Rapid Fire Reviews: Post Malone and Turtlenecked

Posted: by The Editor

Post Malone—beerbongs & bentleys

On beerbongs & bentleys, Post Malone sounds like what he is: a purported multi-millionaire who still shamelessly drinks Bud Light like a college freshman. The 23-year-old’s long-awaited (?) follow-up to 2016’s Stoney, the singles of which made him one of the most popular artists of the last couple years and one of the first stars of the Soundcloud rap era, isn’t an excruciating hour you’ll never get back because it’s bad, but because it doesn’t even have the guts to be bad. Much like his affinity for one of the most inoffensive American beverages in existence—one that’s deliberately designed for ubiquitous consumption under circumstances where taste is moot—beerbongs & bentleys is predictable, safe and flavorless. Posty delivers the expectedly shallow lamentations on wealth (“Rich & Sad”), insipid party wallpaper (“Zack And Codeine”) and vaguely “confessional” cuts (“Paranoia”) of washed out pop-trap that couldn’t effectively soundtrack anything other than the back room at the rager where all the kids trying to combat the spins plunk down. In other words, a space where music is only necessary for providing enough noise so that someone doesn’t pass out in their own puke puddle.

The only thing beerbongs & bentleys inspires is a mental rendering of that hypothetical room, which was used throughout the night for “Wonderwall”-tier busking (“Stay”) and perhaps one rousing blunt rotation (“rockstar,” still the freshest and most invigorating song on the album despite having been an oversaturated chart-topper for over six months) before its inevitable transformation into the dark den for those who couldn’t keep up with the onslaught of Dilly Dilly’s. It’s a place most of us have been, but not one we desire to recollect—or are even physically capable of recalling—with even the faintest of detail.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Turtlenecked—High Scores of the Heart

It’s a bit of an oxymoron for Portland multi-instrumentalist Harrison Smith to call his project Turtlenecked. Across two full-lengths, Pure Plush Bone Cage (2016) and Vulture (2017), and a handful of EP’s, Smith’s delivered some of the most shapeless, unhinged and downright wacky garage pop of the last few years; music that’s sonically and lyrically antithetical to the stuffy, constricting nature of a turtleneck sweater. However, amidst the erratic punkiness of Pure Plush (essentially the scrappy art-rock companion to Teens of Denial) were dazzling hooks that Smith expounded upon with Vulture; 10 brilliant pop-rock songs with infectious licks and synth lines, unpredictable dynamics, and a more melodic yet equally animated vocal approach.

But for Vulture’s follow-up, the 21-minute High Scores of the Heart EP, Smith cut the bullshit and went full-on freak-pop. Think Bellows, The Postal Service, Emperor X, recent Porches and Xiu Xiu’s “Wondering”—not Car Seat Headrest. Opener “Knocked Down By Another Ghost” and closer “Christmas Songs” distill Vulture’s best moments into a combined five minutes of perfect power-pop, but the rest of the project features glossy auto-tune, thumping electronic basslines, celestial harmonies and sexier, more tempered vocal processions than anything he’s ever crooned. In fact, songs like the mentholy “Underwear” and the plushy “Milkmaids” are the first Turtlenecked songs to ever warrant the “crooning” verb, while “To – Day” and “Friends, Romans, Countryboyz” are the first to genuinely be acceptable at lively social functions.

The dubsteppy bridge in “Centrefold” proves he could probably drop a vocal-less witch-house project and stick the landing, but the brief moment feels shoehorned into an otherwise directionless electro-pop cut. And unfortunately the sparkly ballad “Let Me Know” veers a little too close to Owl City-dom. Overall, though, High Scores of the Heart is both the most accessible and most avant-garde Turtlenecked release yet. Anyone who can strike that pose is destined for indie stardom (another oxymoron, yes).

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Eli Enis | @eli_enis

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