Album Review: Mike Posner's '31 Minutes to Takeoff'
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There’s a new crop of solo male artists that cannily blends pop, R&B and dance. Instead of degrading women, they generally are respectful, if not downright adoring, in their lyrics. It’s a new breed that you could definitely take home to mama.
Mike Posner is the latest to join the ranks of Drake, B.o.B, Jay Sean and Taio Cruz. His first single “Cooler Than Me"—about a co-ed at Duke who wouldn’t give him the time of day (who’s having the last laugh on that one?)—soared to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, while second single, “Please Don’t Go” is also shaping up as a hit.
Both tunes are high points on “31 Minutes to Takeoff,” Posner’s major label debut. The first is a finger-snapper, chock full of interesting twists and turns, including synthesizer lines straight out of the ‘80s, while the second is a romantic slice of post-modern yearning. There’s also something compelling about Posner’s salute to old school R&B paired with his embrace of today’s beats, bells and whistles, such as on stand-out track, “Do U Wanna.”
Posner, who caught J’s attention after releasing a popular mix tape recorded in his dorm room, co-wrote and co-produced all the tunes here, collaborating with Blink 182’s Travis Barker, production team the Smeezingtons and Benny Blanco, best known for his work with Ke$ha.
Many of Posner’s tunes start off ultimately more interesting than where they end up. For example, the slow grind of “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” begins like Rufus’s “Tell Me Something Good” before trailing off. Sweet harmonies on “Déjà Vu” launch the song with a promise that gets broken fairly quickly. There are even backing vocals from Boys II Men, who manage to deliver the line “take that shit all off” as smoothly as a caress.
Posner’s shtick, in so much as he’s working one, is that he never seems to break a sweat here. All the songs are reasonably the same mid-tempo with a steady beat and his laid-back delivery seems effortless, yet never lazy.
There are a few clunkers: his song “Cheated” does take him out of the “adoring women” category, as he sings “no one told me I was dating a whore” and even name drops the woman he’s singing about.
The bigger issue is that everything on the album is fine, but nothing comes close to being remarkable or unique in any way. His voice is serviceable, but utterly without nuance. There are hints and glimmers of a developing talent here—and he’s only 22, so there’s many reasons to believe he’ll morph into a stronger talent-- but “31 Minutes to Takeoff” is a bit of a bumpy flight.