Mike Posner has made his most honest album yet with At Night, Alone. Titled after how the Detroit singer/songwriter tells fans the way the LP should be listened too, Posner certainly took his time for sophomore album. After the release of his 2010 debut, 31 Minutes To Takeoff, which was Posner’s third project in just two years (when you include his 2009 mixtapes which launched the singer/songwriter into the college music scene), Posner’s hiatus between albums even had Frank Ocean fans feeling sympathetic. And with the great success of Posner’s breakout single, ‘Cooler Than Me’, and a number of scrapped projects, fans began to wonder if they had seen the last of Mike Posner.
Fortunately for fans, Mike Posner shed any doubts that he could escape the “one hit wonder” title with the success of his single, ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’. Like the success of ‘Cooler Than Me’, Mike Posner’s second breakout single did not see it’s success overnight. Both tracks were available for many months before an upbeat club mix came in to save the day for the record’s commercial success. While I personally enjoy and prefer the OG versions of both records, the remixes were a smart move and much needed to share Posner’s music with a broader audience. And not only is ‘I Took a Pill In Ibiza’ on par with the success Posner saw in 2010, but the record landed him his first No. 1 on Billboard’s Pop Music charts.
But while Posner’s reemergence into music is very similar to his come-up half a decade ago, the music itself is something entirely different. Making the transition from pop/hip-hop to more pop/folk, Mike Posner first introduced his new sound last year with his EP The Truth. The Truth, like many EPs, was simply a preview into his album to come. And like the rest of At Night, Alone, the EP displayed a whole new Mike Posner, one who is honest in ways that are both beautiful and at times show great humility. Speaking on the album’s lead single, Posner told fans a story about his work with country music star Jake Owen. When Owen asked Posner about the inspiration behind a particular record that he enjoyed, Posner responded that it was about one girl he used to mess around with, mixed with another girl, mixed with some stuff that was simply made up. When Owen asked, “why don’t you just tell the truth?,” his advice resonated with Posner and inspired him to write ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’, a record where Posner sings about his loneliness and dubs a song that he once owed his career to as a “pop song people forgot.” Although its club remix may be reason for the song’s current success, it is the honesty and lyrics in this record that make it so great. Honesty is a theme consistent throughout the album.
Perhaps the album’s best record, which is equally great in its original and remix versions, is ‘Buried In Detroit’. Singing about mortality and your own wake can only be so uplifting, however this record is more so a dedication to Detroit, Michigan. In the track Posner sings about a number of places he has lived and visited, but how only one city truly serves as his true home. The instrumentals to the song match the lyrics well and best in the original version, but its Lucas Lowe remix (available as a bonus) is equally great given its feature from fellow Motor City native, rapper Big Sean. Fans of Posner know that Sean and Posner have a great history, who were friends and frequent collaborators well before their fame. The two work great together and after listening to Sean’s awesome collaborative project with Jhene Aiko, Mike and Sean should definitely readdress the possibilities of a join project.
Near the middle of the LP, Mike Posner draws some unexpected Irish-folk/Irish-rock influence with tracks 7-9. The first of the bunch is ‘Iris’, a song that can’t help but remind me of classic Irish songwriting, in its structure and vivid imagery of nature. Next of the bunch is ‘Only God Knows’, an acapella record that displays a whole new cadence and religious side of Posner that would be performed best in a crowded pub. Following ‘Only God Knows’, is perhaps the most addictive record of the bunch, and maybe even the album. In ‘Jade’, which has a Irish-rock sound throughout, Posner sings about a woman who only can be described as poison. While I’m not sure if this song has any chance of being selected as a single, I would love to see it great the recognition it deserves.
This album, at first listen, can sound all over. Posner does a great job in selecting the track order so no back-to-back records sound too night and day, and each song on its own is great for its own reasons, but the album does not have one coherent sound/style, which isn’t necessary a bad thing. Although the beats, styles, and music influences can jump throughout the album, At Night, Alone is still a complete and coherent project through its raw honesty. Centered around the themes in ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’ and in big thanks to Jake Owen’s advice, At Night, Alone reintroduced the new Mike Posner to the world. A singer who was once known for college favorites like ‘Smoke And Drive’ and ‘Cooler Than Me’, Posner has grown up a lot in the past six years and since graduating college, and its especially evident in his lyrics. At Night, Alone may be best listened to at night when you’re alone, but it’s a quality project that will be great at all times of the day and no matter who you’re with. Don’t expect another six year until Posner’s next effort, and expect him to continue to grow with his new sound.