Pillbox

Mike Posner offers fresh sound

Mike Posner sings at Warped Tour 2010. (credit: Courtesy of Alex Tinder) Mike Posner sings at Warped Tour 2010. (credit: Courtesy of Alex Tinder)

Over the summer, there were a handful of songs that received a lot of radio airplay. One such song was newbie Mike Posner’s single, “Cooler Than Me.” The overnight hit — a clever mix of techno, hip-hop, and pop — is an accurate slice of what the rest of his debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff, sounds like.

The leadoff track is a 53-second intro, sounding like the soundtrack is falling through the sky and clouds. Following that, “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” is about — well, you can probably assume from the title. A sensual electric guitar, paired up with Posner’s silky vocals, creates a great candlelight anthem.

Next off, “Please Don’t Go” crescendos from solely vocals to being backed by a strong bass drumbeat, and it finally gets topped off with a beat that sounds like it came from La Roux. For sure, Posner isn’t one to have a monotonous repertoire.

With clever lyrics about a girl who’s just too cool for school (and too cool for him, apparently), “Cooler Than Me” draws inspiration from a fellow classmate who wouldn’t give Posner the time of day. He writes, “I got you all figured out; you need everyone’s eyes just to feel seen.” Isn’t revenge sweet, especially when it sounds so good?

The next track, “Déjà Vu,” features Boyz II Men on background vocals, so you automatically know it’s a soulful jam. “Do U Wanna?” starts off sounding like something straight out of ’90s Brooklyn, and continues with Posner asking rather bluntly, “Do you wanna be my baby? Do you wanna be my girl?”

“Cheated” is about an unfaithful relationship, but not what you might expect. He talks about a couple’s times together, but retrospectively thinks, “I should’ve cheated on you. I was everything you wanted and more.” But the best part of the song is when he names the girl the song is about: “Caroline Stevens, this song is for you.” Posner isn’t one to spend his nights at home crying over heartbreak.
Toning it down, “Gone In September” starts off with a beat of snapping fingers. This song is Posner’s take on a ballad, dealing with leaving a lady-friend — whom we’re not sure he really has feelings for — after the summer months. He croons, “Now it’s breaking my heart to break yours,” but later asks, “I said I loved you in the summer, but will I love you in the fall?” Juxtaposed with the sad lyrics is the optimistic music, which leaves listeners feeling like they’ve heard a new style of music.

“Save Your Goodbye” starts off, again, sounding like a ballad, but the chorus comes in with a very strong beat and seems to slow down time. Next up, “Synthesizer” — an instrument Posner uses liberally in his music — follows the calmed-down previous tracks and is the only track over four minutes. It echoes the atmosphere of the leadoff 53-second track and, if you can believe it, he uses a synthesizer in the chorus!

“Delta 1406” is easily forgettable, with its unchanging beat and Posner’s lack of vocal range, but still serves as a “chill-out song.” The closing track, “Falling,” returns to the sound of the skies. Throughout the song, Posner delivers endless and wordy verses, but they flow so well and complement the rhythm that it’s almost like he’s reciting a poem of fear and angst. “Every word that you say keeps on bouncing around in my head / And all my illusions of grandeur are turning to bad dreams instead / You’ll be there pointing and laughing to prove you were wiser than I / ’Cause I’m just pretending perfection / I’m flying uncomfortably high.”

The musicality of the opener and the closer are almost identical; we know we were taken on a journey of sound, but we’re still falling through the clouds.

Posner, at the ripe age of 22, can put his sociology and business degree from Duke aside for now. (He just graduated this past spring!) After all, following one of the summer’s most-played songs is going to take up quite a bit of time, but he shouldn’t have any trouble.

Listen Up: “Cooler Than Me,” “Cheated,” “Save Your Goodbye,” “Falling”

The Verdict: Definitely check this guy out! He’s fresh, he’s now, he’s good, and he’s not going anywhere.