×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Album Review: Mike Posner’s ‘A Real Good Kid’

From the tone of such hits as his 2010 debut “Cooler Than Me” and 2015’s  “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” singing, songwriting pop-hop beardo Mike Posner had a seemingly breezy take on life, love and responsibility. If you could have squeezed together the two Justins — Timberlake and Bieber (Posner has written for the latter) — into one folksy, shaggy, club-rap trap, it would come out smelling sweet like Mike. There’s always been a melancholy edge to Posner’s innocence mission, but his light soulful rasp, gently thumping grooves and upbeat optimism always gives away his unique club kiddishness.

Posner’s third studio album, “A Real Good Kid,” however, portrays what a few years (he turns 31 in February), and several tragedies (the death of his father after a protracted illness, the suicide of friend-collaborator Avicii, whom he famously referenced in the line “I took a pill in Ibiza to show Avicii I was cool”) can do to a man, and how he thinks of that now-ragged axis of life, love and responsibility.

Whether or not Posner is asking his teen audience to take him more seriously is irrelevant.  For once, he sounds as if he is living deeply within the moment (backed by a thick brass synth part on “Song about You,” he sounds positively brusque), and seeks to have his audience contemplate the gravity of the split second. Elements of “A Real Good Kid” may sound as bright as those Ibizan shores – the meaty, world beat-y “Stuck in the Middle,” for example. But, the majority of Posner’s most mature and vulnerable recording to date finds the weight of consequence and the emotional passage of time (as on the Frank Ocean-esque “Drip”) to be thrilling in its uncertainty, but treacherously sad once the end hits, hard.

Starting with a spare “January 11th, 2017,” and a Beach Boys-esque choral harmony, a growling, falsetto’d Posner rummages through a life (or, in this case, a set of drawers) with the most minuscule of details at his ready. His sister smoked all the joints in that drawer. He got a thousand perfumed hugs. His rugs got dirty when the cops came to claim the body . And, by the end of it all, ”on the day my daddy died, I became a man.”

From that point forward, Posner muses about the butterfly-flitting freedom afforded him in “Wide Open,” with plucky acoustic guitars, lullaby keyboards and Raymond Scott-like twitches. Only, he’s not as footloose as he wants, weighed down as he is by commitment and an inability to break the chains of past mistakes. “I got a new woman, but I treat her like my old one,” he sings. “If I keep this shit up, I know I’ma be with no one.”

With its sunshiny strum and four-on-the-floor pulse, “Move On” could be an sanguine platitude-filled take on break-ups and crying alone, but smiling through the pain. “Beginnings always hide themselves in ends/ At some point I will be okay” and “I wish Tracy Chapman was my friend/ She would know exactly what to say,” litter the top half of the tune like ants at a picnic. Then you hit Posner’s video for the same song, and you see clips of Posner’s father, who died after battling brain cancer with his son by his side – to say nothing of footage of his pal, producer Avicii, and you realize that moving on has weightier implications, and that any smiling Posner does to hide the pain is more of a pragmatic exercise than a healing one.

Like Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown,” a grin is a flimsy mask in which to shield oneself from heartache. That’s corny, but true, and every re-listening to “Move On” after you see the clip affirms that feeling. And with that, and through the entirety of “A Real Good Kid,” you feel and hear how greatly the still-gangly Posner has matured without losing his childlike charm.

Album Review: Mike Posner's 'A Real Good Kid'

More Music

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report

    “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago police said Wednesday. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. Smollett is due to appear in court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. [...]

  • Jussie Smollett suspect

    Jussie Smollett Named a Suspect by Chicago Police for Filing False Report

    Chicago police have named “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett as a suspect in a criminal investigation, three weeks after he reported he was the victim of a hate crime. Detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury, which is expected to determine whether to indict Smollett on a charge of filing a false police report. “Jussie [...]

  • Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris, the 1975

    Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris, the 1975 Win Big at Brit Awards

    Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris and the 1975 were big winners at Wednesday night’s Brit Awards, taking home the Best British Single (for Harris and Lipa’s “One Kiss”), Album of the Year (for The 1975’s “Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships”) as well as Best British Group (the 1975). While the show, livestreamed from London’s O2 Arena, [...]

  • Jason Owen Kacey Musgraves

    Meet Jason Owen, the Mega-Manager Whose Clients Swept the Grammys' Country Awards

    There was a moment on the night of Feb. 10 when manager Jason Owen allowed his mind to “go there.” Could his client, Kacey Musgraves, who by 4 p.m. had already picked up two Grammy Awards — for “Space Cowboy” and “Butterflies,” for best country song and best country solo performance, respectively — in Owen’s [...]

  • Ariana Grande Surprises Boy Band on

    Ariana Grande Surprises Filipino Boy Band on 'Corden'

    The Filipino boy band TNT Boys gained an extra member Tuesday night when pop-star Ariana Grande made a surprise appearance during the group’s performance on “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” After winning Filipino competition show “Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids,” band members Keifer Sanchez, Mackie Empuerto, and Francis Concepcion have continued to solidify [...]

  • Island Records Names Christine Kauffman Senior

    Island Records Names Christine Kauffman Senior VP of Brand Partnerships

    Veteran advertising executive Christine Kauffman has been named senior VP of brand partnerships at Island Records, the company announced today. She will be based in New York and report to Island COO Eric Wong. In making the announcement, Island President Darcus Beese said, “The fast-paced and competitive field of strategic brand marketing has become an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content