By Sean Fennessey
Oh, the folly of youth. Mike Posner has been positioned as a wunderkind craftsman who wrote his first bona-fide hit, the slithery R&B-pop single "Cooler Than Me," while a student at Duke University. He graduated in the spring with a dual degree in sociology and business, and his debut represents a clever fusion of those disciplines. He succeeds by acting like a census taker, identifying and then synthesizing what people want. But too often he simply acts his age.
The album, "31 Minutes to Takeoff," features bitter and falsely modest songs about love lost and gained. And also sex. The sound is a sneakily involving slab of Plasticine blue-eyed soul - think Hall & Oates & Timberlake - with synths that dart and then explode like firecrackers. Posner has a thin, ragged, almost hissing voice, but he's made some savvy decisions here, including the recruitment of producers such as the now-inescapable house-pop king Benny Blanco, the Smeezingtons and the Bird and the Bee's Greg Kurstin. Still, he is emotionally unseasoned.
On "Cheated," he sings, "I should have cheated on you / I was everything you wanted and more / nobody told me I was dating a - " Posner's voice whirls out before finishing the insult, but the intention is clear. This sort of petulant revenge fantasy - before the bridge hits, Posner calls out his ex by name - is raw and honest, but also ugly and hard to listen to. How quickly a wunderkind outgrows expectation.
Recommended tracks: "Gone in September," "Bow Chicka Wow Wow"