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Post Malone - Twelve Carat Toothache (Album Review)

Thursday, 09 June 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

For Post Malone’s fourth album, the 26-year-old rapper-singer has delivered 16 tracks of strikingly confessional music, continuing the genre-melding formula that he has honed over the past 10 years. ‘Twelve Carat Toothache’ is puckish, sometimes memorable and antagonistic, with big musical swings taken throughout the record and big variation in the quality of the results.

We’ll start with the good stuff. Euthanasia is a dark pop track that lands somewhere between an Eno soundscape and the autotuned warblings of Kanye West’s ‘808s & Heartbreak’. If you like autotune this album is for you—it appears on practically every track, but really works on this one.

There is excellent storytelling found in the song's life support bleep motif and the fundamental lyrics are a heartbreaking story of self destruction: “I spit another tooth in the trash can / I gave up on keepin' me intact.” 

One Right Now (with The Weeknd) is another hit. Here, Post Malone’s fluid movements through rap, R&B and electropop are balanced out nicely by his Canadian collaborator.

If we’re being completely honest, the song sounds more like a Weeknd track than anything else, but it is way more successful than When I’m Alone, which certainly does not feature The Weeknd. It feels like a diluted, but still acrid version of his work. And this links us to the rest of the record.

While Post Malone is a household name with Generation TikTok in Europe, his real popularity is in the USA and one of the reasons for this is the way that American commercial radio and streaming services work. DJs and algorithms are far more stringent in selecting playlists based on genre there, and as such Post Malone’s initial genre fluidity probably felt like more of a risk, like face tattoos. It doesn’t really seem the same now.

On ‘Twelve Carat Toothache’ it means that he (and main collaborator-producer Louis Bell) are reaching for hugely disparate effects and it often implodes—Lemon Tree and Wasting Angels are the most unlistenable examples of this phenomenon. Despite hugely attention grabbing lyrics and looking like a fascinating person, Post Malone’s music feels like bad fusion cuisine.

It’s sometimes worse than that, too. It’s as though some excitable chef opened a  restaurant serving Indian, Chinese and Mexican food, then put all the dishes into a blender and delivered you a plate of sludge. The chef assures you it’s the ‘future of food’. As you shakily proffer up a fork of mashed up saag aloo, noodles and tortilla chips to your mouth, you're terrified that he might be right.

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