×

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

  • Mandy Moore

    Mandy Moore on Why She's Returning to Music, 20 Years After Hitting It Big

    Mandy Moore, of “This Is Us” fame, seemed to have said “that’s not me” when it came to making music anymore. But she was just biding her time, waiting for the right moment — and, she says, the right supportive relationship — to resume recording after dropping out in the late 2000s. The 35-year-old actress, [...]

  • Spotify and Resident Advisor Announce Ticketing

    Spotify Unveils Ticketing Partnership With Dance Music Platform Resident Advisor

    Spotify today announced a ticketing partnership with influential dance-music website Resident Advisor with the goal of “supporting music communities around the world by increasing attendance to thousands of local venues and parties.” The program will connect Spotify users to events by artists via localized event listings promoted within the application. The program is similar to [...]

  • The Weeknd Reveals Dates for Massive

    The Weeknd Reveals Dates for Massive ‘After Hours’ Tour

    With his new album “After Hours” due next month, the Weeknd has revealed dates for a massive tour in support of the album, which kicks off in Vancouver in June and continues across North America until early September, then moves to Europe in the fall. THE AFTER HOURS TOUR : https://t.co/89YAhPTd9g pic.twitter.com/BOEemiDI85 — The Weeknd [...]

  • Lana Del Rey

    Lana Del Rey Cancels European Tour After Losing Her Voice

    Lana Del Rey has cancelled her European and U.K. tour due to an unspecified illness that apparently has caused her to lose her voice. The singer, 34, said in a statement: “Sorry to let everyone down so last minute but this illness has taken me by surprise and have totally lost my singing voice. Dr has [...]

  • CMT Throws a Data Party to

    CMT Throws a Data Party to Prove Country Fans Really Do Want More Female Voices

    When debates arise over the lack of airplay for women at country radio, the industry is often told that the answers lie in the generally unpublished research stations do to determine which songs their listeners like most. Now, proponents for the women of country are battling back with data of their own, looking to fight [...]

  • Neil Young U.S. citizenship

    Neil Young Calls Trump 'a Disgrace,' Says Sanders Will 'Make America Great Again'

    Neil Young plans to keep on resistin’ in the free world. Just weeks after the Canadian rocker officially became a dual citizen of th eUnited States as well, he’s penned an excoriating letter to Donald Trump, calling him “a disgrace to my country” and endorsing Bernie Sanders for president. The sentiments themselves are not a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content