Mike Posner graduated from Duke in May, and like many young people just out of college, he needs a job. 31 Minutes To Takeoff acts as a résumé of sorts, showcasing his songwriting, producing, and vocal skills. Think Justin Timberlake’s less-talented cousin, or Andy Samberg. But if he continues crafting catchy synth-pop songs like “Please Don’t Go” and the creeping summer hit “Cooler Than Me,” Posner should be able to find employment in this tough economy.
Still, Takeoff is a bit muddled. “Do U Wanna?” sounds like Uncle Kracker. “Delta 1406” evokes ELO and features pretentious lyrics destined to sound deep after a diet of bong hits. Attempts at sexy soul fall a bit flat, but show that Posner works well with others: “Déjà Vu” makes nice use of Boyz II Men’s vocal harmonies, and The Smeezingtons contribute real live instruments on the insipid-yet-catchy “Bow Chika Wow Wow.” “Gone In September,” a collaboration with Travis Barker, is a pleasant surprise that would fit right in on a Blink-182 album, “whoah-oh” chorus and all. Nothing on Takeoff is earth-shatteringly original; even “Cooler Than Me” appeared on the pair of 2009 mix-tapes Posner recorded in his dorm room. But in a pop landscape that includes “lovesick crackhead” Ke$ha, Posner deserves some credit, especially when grading on a curve.