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Album Review: Mike Posner - 31 Minutes To Takeoff

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Album Review: Mike Posner - 31 Minutes To Takeoff

After listening to Mike Posner's first two singles, (the Gigamesh-produced  "Cooler Than Me" and the Benny Blanco-produced "Please Don't Go") I found it REALLY difficult to pin down what direction Posner was going to go in on his debut album.   AFTER listening to the album...I'm still not sure.  The album has got a little bit of everything.  It's a little bit pop mixed with a splash of hip-hop, drizzled with some synthy electro-goodness.  I'm just going to go ahead and call it electro-pop.

Labelmates Posner and Ke$ha hang at the '31 Minutes To Takeoff' Album Launch Party
31 Minutes To Takeoff is due out on J Records August 10th and features production work by Posner, Benny Blanco, The Smeezingtons, Gigamesh, Cisco Adler, Raw Talent and the ever-amazing Greg Kurstin.  With a powerhouse team of producers like that, Mike Posner SHOULD have it made but before evaluating the album itself, I have one other thing to determine.  Is Posner singing...speaking or rapping?  Is there any vocal talent here or do we just have lyrics overlaid with slick production?  I found myself asking the same questions after listening to Ke$ha's debut and you know what I decided?  Who cares! It was a fun record!  Could the same be said for Mike Posner's debut?  Let's see, shall we?

 Like most R&B albums these days, 31 Minutes To Takeoff starts out with the inevitable 'INTRO.'  The intro in this case, is the album's title track and it features Posner half-singing his way through it before he's abruptly cut off by an indeterminate sound effect.  The first full length track on the album is second official single, the Benny Blanco-produced "Please Don't Go."  While the song is catchy it's missing the attitude and PUNCH that "Cooler Than Me" had.  The song gives Posner ample time to showcase his vocal ability, but he just winds up sounding like a broken down Justin Timberlake, especially when he reaches into his falsetto.  On the summery, smooth, Smeezingtons' produced "Bow Chicka Wow Wow" Posner serenades a mystery woman with his porno music ("bow chicka wow wow"? That's porn music, right?).  I can't help but think of a slightly-older Justin Bieber when I listen to this song. I don't know if that's a bad thing or a good thing...

NEXT up we have "Cooler On Me," one of the album's stand out tracks for sure.  32 seconds into the song is where things turn into magic.  As soon as the infectious beat starts there's NO TURNING BACK.  "Déjà Vu"is one of two tracks on the album produced solely by Posner and it's one of the better tracks on the album.  That speaks well to Posner's ability as a producer.  Additionally, we have the always reliable Boyz II Men on background vocal duties, creating some beautiful 3-part harmonies.  On the Cisco Adler-produced "Do U Wanna?," Posner very clearly samples Ray LaMontagne's 2008 single "You Are The Best Thing."  An interesting choice for a sample, but it works surprisingly well, turning into one of the best tracks on the album.

"Cheated" takes the album into a decidedly electro-pop direction as one of the most dancefloor-ready tracks on the album.  "Cheated" appears to be a vengeful response to a certain "Caroline Stevens," who evidently screwed him over.  "I should've cheated on you/I was everything you wanted and more/I should've cheated on you/Nobody told me I was dating a whore."  Nice.  "Gone In September" is the second Cisco Adler-assisted track, co-produced by Posner.  As a follow up to to such a fun, dancey number like "Cheated" this track doesn't really work.  I think I'm having an issue with the disjointed flow (or lack there of) of the album.

On the Greg Kurstin-produced "Save Your Goodbye" we have the closest thing we're going to see to a Mike Posner ballad.  It starts out tender and sweet...changes tempos and rocks out for a bit in the chorus before softening again.  Now, according to my calculations, towards the end of the next track, the Kurstin-produced "Synthesizer," we should be about 31 minutes into the album.  If you'll recall, Posner alluded to something really spectacular happening 31 minutes into the album, right? Let's refresh:
"Something happens 31 minutes into the record. You're going to have to listen to find out what it is. All I can say is that both the listener and I will be in a higher place when it's over."
Hmm. Well. At exactly about 3:45 (a couple seconds shy of the 31 minute mark) into the song we hear the sound of a plane taking that the 'higher place' Posner was referring to?  If that was it, I suppose I'm a little bit disappointed. I was just expecting something a bit bigger.  That was a lot of setup for a sound effect...and there are still two tracks left on the album!  "Delta 1406" is a dreamy, trip-hoppy track, co-produced by Posner and Raw Talent.  The song actually reminds me of something off of Moby's 1999 Play album.  The album closes with another Greg Kurstin collaboration, a song called "Falling," another electro-standout.

So as the last track fades into silence, we're nearly 39 minutes into takeoff and I'm...generally satisfied.  Not quite sure if Posner's debut is worthy of a first class ticket or if it's somewhere between coach and business class.  There are first class moments for sure (specifically "Cooler Than Me," and "Do U Wanna?") but there are also some songs better left in the lavatory, namely "Bow Chicka Wow Wow."  One of the bigger flaws to me is the lack of cohesion. I'm all about genre-bending material but this album is sort of all over the place.  The other weakness I have to call out would be Posner's vocals.  While I don't think he's ever admitted to being a great singer, there are some "off" moments that are hard to get passed.  That being said, Posner is absolutely a talented songwriter and producer and as debut CDs go, 31 Minutes To Take Off is a solid first effort.  I'm looking forward to seeing what this kid does next.  I think he's here to stay.

31 Minutes To Takeoff is out on Tuesday, August 10th. Listen to the whole album now until the 10th on MySpace.  If you can't get enough of Mike Posner, starting on September 10th, SIRIUS Radio subscribers will be able to tune into The Mike Posner Show on SIRIUS XM's Faction, SIRIUS channel 28 and XM Channel 52, airing Friday nights at 9:00 PM ET.  This fall, Posner will also be hitting clubs across the country when he embarks on his first headlining tour, cleverly titled The Up In The Air Tour.  He'll be joined by Far East Movement, Stephen Jerzak, 2AM Club, Bad Rabbits and XV.  Tickets are on sale now.  Check out Mike Posner in a city near you:

Tour Dates:


Check out Mike Posner on the web:
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