“These are the best songs Mike Posner has ever written.” That’s how electronic musician Aviici described Mike Posner’s long-awaited sophomore album, At Night, Alone. Call At Night, Alone the singer/songwriter/producer’s ‘second chance’ at pop success following an underappreciated debut (31 Minutes To Take Off), which indeed featured “a pop song people forgot” (“Cooler Than Me”).
How does Posner’s latest – his first in six years – stack up? There’s plenty to like about the album and based upon songs from his debut and the songs he’s written and produced for others, Aviici’s praises are accurate. He begins magnificently with a reprisal of “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” the original version from 2015 EP, The Truth. The song is perfectly tailored to Posner’s unique, raspy voice, and lyrically he’s both serious yet witty (“I took a pill in Ibiza / to show Aviici I was cool / and when I finally got sober, felt 10 years older / but f*ck it, it was something to do”).
“Not That Simple” and “Be As You Are” also reappear from The Truth. “Simple” is successful, despite having the task of following up a juggernaut. Part of the appeal is the simplicity of the production. Much like “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” it’s on the conservative side, yet sufficient to the lyrics and sentiment that Posner aims to convey. On “Be As You Are” Posner introspects once more about his past and current status in life, leaning on the advice of his mom. It packs more punch than “Not That Simple,” building up in gargantuan fashion driven by pummeling drums.
The soulful pop of “In The Arms OF A Stranger” provides At Night, Alone it’s first brand new song. What a song it is, drenched in mad falsetto that Posner has been hiding. The momentum remains strong on “Silence” where Posner continues to flaunt a silly upper register. He gets a lift from soulful British standout Labrinth. The best part is the breakdown section at the end, not to mention the clear contrast of Labrinth and Posner’s vocals when working together.
“Iris” continues a trend of thoughtful lyrics, finding Posner wishing he could be the ideal man to her liking, but accepting the reality that there are things he can’t change and he has to do the best he can. Here, he shows off his lower register and truly shows the distinctive timbre of his voice. “Only God Knows” is unlike anything else, but that’s part of its charm. Off-putting to an extent, it is also mesmerizing, drawing the listener into its spiritual musings.
“Jade” is a song about a girl, but it transcends that label. As Posner has stepped up his songwriting game throughout, He crafts a creative narrative surrounding the character that keeps it interesting. Add in the electrifying production and “Jade” is ‘A-Okay.’ Does “One Hell Of A Song” live up to its confident title? For the most part, but it doesn’t best ‘the best.’
The final piece – arguably the best via The Truth EP – arrives with the thoughtful “Buried In Detroit,” an ode to Posner’s Midwest hometown. While songs of hometowns are commonplace, they never seem to grow old, hence why “Buried In Detroit” is as effective and enthralling as anything else. The remainder of the album features remixes, coincidentally of most of the highlights. The standout is clearly the Seeb Remix of “I Took A Pill In Ibiza.” Also worth noting, Posner’s friend Big Sean appears on the Lucas Lowe Remix of “Buried In Detroit.”
So, how did Mike do with album number two? He definitely surprises, showing much more range as a songwriter, not to mention vocally as a singer. Even if it’s imperfect, At Night, Alone is nonetheless captivating and hopefully gives Posner the ‘second chance’ he deserves. The listener will definitely have a couple of songs on repeat!
Favorites: “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” “Be As You Are,” “In The Arms Of A Stranger,” “Silence” and “Buried In Detroit”
Mike Posner • At Night, Alone. • Island • Release Date: 5.6.16