Mike Posner’s second studio album At Night, Alone has been six years in the making. After he released the hip-hop-inflected 31 Minutes to Takeoff featuring the hit single “Cooler Than Me” in 2010, the Detroit artist shelved two full albums with RCA, moved labels to Island, and began putting together a new, softer sound.
“The theme of the album is honesty,” Posner tells EW of the collection, due out Friday. That’s exemplified in the album’s first single, “I Took A Pill in Ibiza,” which has peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard charts, garnered more than 300 million streams globally, and features the highly quotable line “I took a pill in Ibiza to show Avicii I was cool.”
“After I wrote ‘I Took A Pill in Ibiza’ I knew I was just going to do a whole project like that, being brutally honest,” he says. The rest of the songs follow suit and chronicle Posner’s affirmations of self-love. Feel-good tracks like “Be As You Are” promote acceptance with lyrics like “I’m not who I used to be/ And I know some people might laugh/ Cause my music doesn’t sound the same/ And my head’s no longer shaved.”
At Night, Alone trades the urban club beats featured on 31-minutes for a 30-piece orchestra, delicate keys, and singer-songwriter vibes that Posner says he found in a roundabout way. “All the music I did in my life before this was just making beats and singing to those beats. I tried to do that for this record, but I felt it wasn’t serving the songs correctly.”
Instead, he took his time, working on new production inspired by his late music teacher Norman Henry Mamey, who conducted the orchestra that appears on a handful of songs. “When I was in the control room and heard it for the first time, I started crying,” he says. It’s the same kind of emotion Posner says he’s put into his poetry — he intends to publish a book soon — and inspired the “somewhere between 50 and 100” songs he writes a year.
“I think of the pop music that I’ve made in the past and hear on the radio as candy bars. And I was really good at making candy bars,” Posner says. “But this album is like a big bloody piece of meat.”