Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall (Album Review)
Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall
Released: September 25th 2020
Machine Gun Kelly // Vocals & Guitar
Travis Barker // Drums & Production
Ever since his massive hit song ‘I Think I’m OKAY’ alongside Blink-182’s Travis Barker and young UK misfit Yungblud, Machine Gun Kelly has been building up the hype for his highly anticipated album, which is considered his musical transition from rapper to rockstar. Under the guidance of Travis Barker, Tickets To My Downfall is a collection of Kelly’s past and current life experiences. Given his high profile and the fact that Barker is the best drummer/musician of our time (seriously, anything he touches turns to fucking gold), this could very well be the record that sees guitar-driven pop anthems back in the mainstream this year.
The album kicks off with ‘Title Track’, a slow acoustic strum launching into a straight up pop punky melody. This tune mimics the early 2000’s punk genre so much and it’s hard not to want to sing along with those “yeah, yeah, yeah’s”. He’s followed this up with ‘Kiss Kiss’ which is easily one of the more catchiest songs on the record. An anthem for your party days, this tune will absolutely throwback to your 18-year-old clubbing weekends. ‘Drunk Face’ is much more of the same here, with an added poppy beat creeping into the background here. While there’s not a heap of substance to the lyrics here, he kinda makes up for it with an infectious melody to boot. ‘Bloody Valentine’ however, does step it up hugely with those catchy pop rock melodies soaring into the chorus. Also, is it just me that thinks of Tom Delonge every time Machine Gun Kelly sings “in my yeaaadd” on this track? I have a feeling that if Blink-182 never got Matt Skiba, this guy would be next off the ranks.
Not one to shy away from famous musical collaborations, this next one features alt/pop songstress Halsey and oh my, ‘Forget Me Too‘ is the best pop punk anthem we’ve heard since Avril Lavigne’s ‘Girlfriend’. Halsey absolutely smashes her feature here and even though it may throw you back to Demi Lovato’s earlier years, this is a standout tune on the album. Machine Gun Kelly simmers down on that whole emo trap sensation with ‘All I Know’ alongside the help of US rapper Trippie Redd. It’s like a cool blend of early 2000’s pop with an added touch of what’s making waves in pop today. I rate this way more than ‘Lonely’ which I felt was a letdown here. While ‘Lonely’ did begin with quite the nostalgic rock riff, the song kinda just fizzled out way too quickly before we could really feel his emotions.
Blink fans will froth ‘WWIII’ hard here because this sounds like it was taken straight out of the Blink-182 demo archives. Clocking in at just under a minute, this is a furious, punk belter which ends just as quickly as it began. ‘Kevin and Barracuda’ sees us listening to Kelly talking alien names, “be-boop’s” and “coming down from mushrooms”, which works out to be the perfect prelude for ‘Concert For Aliens’. If you haven’t heard this song yet, you’ve probably been hiding under a rock this year (or stuck in isolation with no internet) because this an absolute fucking anthem. It’s as pop punky as he gets on Tickets to My Downfall and might just be the best throwback we’ve heard since the early 2000’s itself. Anyone between the ages of 25 and 35 will instantly be transported to their teenage emo/punk years. Turn this up!
Machine Gun Kelly sure knows how to collab with all the right people in the music industry to reignite his career, that’s for sure. From Travis Barker to Halsey to… Blackbear. You’ll want to turn up ‘My Ex’s Best Friend’ as loud as the previous track because this radio friendly pop banger is one of the best singles released this year. From its guitar-driven riff intertwined with an electronic beat to the ridiculously catchy chorus, it’s the perfect summer soaked pop anthem. I mean, come on, Blackbear is killing it on the charts with his latest album, Everything Means Nothing as much as Kelly is this year. The summer thrills continue with ‘Jawbreaker’, which is the rockier counterpart to ‘My Ex’s Best Friend’, while ‘Nothing Inside’ sees Kelly revisiting those catchy “yeah yeah yeah’s” in an infectious pop rock banger. Combined with yet another guest feature from US rapper Iann Dior, it shows a successful musical transition for Kelly once again.
I’ve noticed that after listening to this album I’m not really a big fan of spoken interlude tracks because I feel it lowers the overall quality of the entire record. While ‘Banyan Tree’ is an attempt at Machine Gun Kelly showing his softer side towards current flame Megan Fox and definitely ends with a short musical number about love, I would have loved to see him explore his emotions on a deeper level more. In saying that though, this interlude segues into ‘Play This When I’m Gone’. A twisted song of sorts, the track explores some pretty insightful, dark thoughts about telling someone you love how to keep your memory alive once you’re gone. It’s quite cynical, but this is by far the one track that Kelly really went deep on here.
It’s inevitably clear to see that Tickets to My Downfall wouldn’t be nearly as good if Travis Barker wasn’t the executive producer of this album. Every Machine Gun Kelly single released has been a hit with pop punk fans alike, with each song a deadset throwback to the genre’s golden days. What the album lacks in lyrical substance though, is made up for with the abundance of infectious pop melodies and catchy rock choruses. Overall, it’s a fully enjoyable pop record for lazy pool days and casual beach drives that serves as a subtle reminder for what radio friendly pop music sounded like when we were growing up.
Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall tracklisting:
1. Title Track
2. Kiss Kiss
3. Drunk Face
4. Bloody Valentine
5. Forget Me Too (featuring Halsey)
6. All I Know (featuring Trippie Redd)
9. Kevin and Barracuda Interlude
10. Concert For Aliens
11. My Ex’s Best Friend (featuring Blackbear)
13. Nothing Inside (featuring Iann Dior)
14. Banyan Tree Interlude
15. Play This When I’m Gone
Tickets To My Downfall is out Friday through Interscope Records/Universal Music Australia. Pre-order here
Review by Tamara May (@citylightstam)
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How can anyone say that Lonely song was a letdown, it was obviously the best song on the album with some deep meaning behind it.
Play This When I’m Gone was written for his daughter, Casie.