A half-in, half-out approach leaves the wobbly-voiced warbler stuck at a fork in the road
It’s a perilous business viewing music in individual decades, as only a split second separates the end of one from the beginning of another, but Post Malone looks set to be defined as a late-2010s artist. From 2017 to 2019 the wobbly-voiced warbler had some of the era’s biggest hits but a lengthy hiatus has killed the momentum, leaving him scrambling to recapture his old audience.
Twelve Carat Toothache works best when Post is energetic and chirpy, as seen on the bass-heavy Cooped Up with Roddy Ricch and the irresistible topline of Andrew Watt co-write Wrapped Around Your Finger. Is the latter particularly representative of Post as an artist? Not at all, but it’s so catchy that this doesn’t matter. Other highlights of the record include Insane’s versatile delivery and the chemistry between him and Doja Cat on I Like You (A Happier Song) (“I want you, I just want you / your heart’s so big but that ass is huge”)
It’s a shame, therefore, that about half of the album is dominated by overwrought emo-rap schlock. Songs like Euthanasia and Waiting For A Miracle contain lyrics depressive enough to concern Post’s friends and family over moody, muted instrumentation, while Wasting Angels sees him and his mini-me The Kid LAROI sounding absolutely identical, suggesting that this town ultimately ain’t big enough for the both of them.
The record returns to a sense of fun with the enjoyably chauvinistic One Right Now, borrowing plenty from The Weeknd’s musical palette, but Twelve Carat Toothache leaves the impression that Post is stuck at a fork in the road. He has already proven himself an unconventional but worthy popstar and as time goes by he will have to decide how committed he is to that musical direction, as this album’s half-in-half-out approach is unsatisfying.