Mike Posner’s ‘At Night, Alone’: Album Review

Jordan Simon | May 6, 2016 8:30 am
Often when an artist gets that first taste of success, it’s easy to get lost in the embarrassment of riches, whether it’s in the form of cars, clothes, cash or, in Mike Posner’s case, a nightmarish pill-popping excursion in Ibiza. His debut album, 31 Minutes To Takeoff, brought along with it his coronation onto the pop music scene thanks to hit single “Cooler Than Me,” but soon after was an all-too-familiar tale of professional setbacks and personal truths.

Q&A:: Posner talks second chances and finally returning

His next two projects, Pages and Sky High, were scrapped, and the singer went through a severe case of depression. So Posner signed with Island Records, wrote hits for the likes of Justin Bieber and Maroon 5 and sought the songwriter’s refuge from the fame game. And after a lengthy period of soul searching, Posner abandoned his pop roots in favor of some bare-bones country acoustics. The genre-switching tactic seemed like a huge gamble, but on At Night, Alone (out ), Posner places his bets as pop’s “born-again” countryman. As he states on the opening interlude, “This album is best listened to at night and alone.” It’s not a pop jamboree. It is truth in advertising, an album exclusively optimized for solitude spent immersed in deep thought.

Posner has one of the most distinctive male voices in pop, and it’s in full force here. As is often the case with EDM, on his past recordings the synthesized rhythms and bombastic production occasionally drowned him out. This time around, with the support of live instrumentals, the overall sound of Posner’s six-years-in-the-making sophomore effort evokes a tone eerily reminiscent of greats like Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

On “Jade,” Posner’s powdery-soft vocals sidle up to a rock-tinged folk tune that would appeal to country listeners, while on the subsequent “One Hell Of A Good Song,” the singer mixes self-loathing and self-love while name-dropping some of his celebrity clients: “Wrote one for Snoop did not take long / Wrote one for Bieber and one for Sean.”

However, At Night, Alone has it share of filler. The raspy vocals of featured singer Labrinth aren’t enough to prevent “Silence” from sounding incomplete. But for those hoping the Detroit-bred crooner would return to the hard-hitting electronic beats of his past work, the second half of the LP delivers. Remixes by SeeB, Jordan XL, Lucas Lowe, Brian Kierulf, Sluggo x Roote and Kyle Tree help Posner tap into his “Cooler Than Me” aesthetic.

After getting lost in the game, Posner got lost in himself and came out with a satisfying chronicle of the journey.

Score: 3.5/5