Mike Posner: 31 Minutes To Takeoff

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Posted October 8, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

Modest experimental debut album from former Duke grad and aspiring neo-pop star showcases more vulnerabilities than strengths

It’s pretty apparent now that the next generation of pop stars will be portion-sized remnants of the former. With a relatively thin and nasally vocal, yet decent enough for pop, Mike Posner kicks off his musical career with 31 Minutes to Takeoff. It’s a salute to the familiar synth pulsations controlling the heartbeat of pop music, courtesy of Bird and the Bee keyboard wizard Greg Kurstin and Benny Blanco’s involvement. But the Duke University graduate goes a different route to prove his originality while playing with a wide variety of sounds, styles and goofy lyricism.

The first half of the disc sound wise is where all the good stuff is tucked. While using Rod Stewart-esque whispers, the anchoring pop smash “Cooler Than Me” struts like a Kraftwerk electropop disco tune. “Deja Vu,” bearing R&B pizzaz and a clever way of inserting Boyz II Men’s fertile background vocals on something trendy and mildly youthful. “Bow Chicka Wow Wow,” with a ten-second guitar solo resembling Ernie Isley’s “Summer Breeze,” is awkwardly sexy and humorous. Just him referencing the old porno music adage alone certainly leaves you snickering on the sly.”Do You Wanna?” blends Motown percussion with hip-hop “yeahs” and drum programming, and even copies the classic Motown’s work ethic for under-three-minute time limit. As hard as it seems, “Do You Wanna?,” with its feel-good melody akin the creations of Raphael Saadiq’s vintage R&B and Mayer Hawthorne’s blue-eyed soul, almost seems out of place. It’s a pretty good song, but it somehow gets lost throughout all of the synthy fireworks.

“Cheated” is an upbeat expression of revenge topped off with some Dr. Luke party mix sounds and juvenile name-calling (“I should have cheated on you/ I was everything you wanted and more/ nobody told me I was dating a whore”)– even going so far as to name “Caroline Stevens” in the mix.

On the second quarter, Posner’s voice tends to get lukewarm on much of the ballads, like the rock-styled ballad of “Gone In September” and on the moody “Save Your Goodbye.” But there’s a hint of redemption (and creativity) that sparkles on the far back end. During the synth-R&B ballad “Synthesizer,” Posner is entranced by Kurstin’s galactic-fantasy experiments and a bubbly melody. As the end approaches, a sound of an airplane taking off (hence the album title) blares loudly into the speakers. “Delta 1406” finds Posner somewhat regretting the flight, the ascension into his newly-discovered fame and even admitting that he’s gone too far into orbit (“Maybe I flew to far/Shooting stars leave no mark”). “Falling,” what sounds like a tussle with God and Posner’s pride, is his way of landing the album.

Besides the creative aircraft takeoff and the inventive spark to create a semi-concept album out of a lab record, 31 Minutes to Takeoff suffers considerably in its attempt to host a number of radio magnets. Even with all of Posner’s Detroit hometown influences, his light tenor needs material that will sustain him in midair. And even if some of his choice of words bring a swarm of shock value and abrasive heat to the mix, it isn’t quite enough to make the song sublime or all that memorable. Posner said that his music doesn’t sound like anyone elses out there. Not sure if that’s because he’s just being a rebellious wonder or if he’s not really interested in hearing anything else that will influence him or make him stronger as a musician, but that explains how 31 Minutes lost some of its wow factor. It only needed to sound like something great out there. 31 Minutes is bearable, but not great.

J MATTHEW COBB

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HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: August 10, 2010
  • Label: J
  • Producers: Mike Posner, Benny Blanco, Greg Kurstin, Gigamesh, The Smeezingtons, Cisco Adler, Raw Talent
  • Track Favs: Cooler Than Me, Do You Wanna?, Deja Vu, Synthezier

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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