ALBUM REVIEW: Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall

Whether you know him from his decade-long rap career, role as Felix in Birdbox, spot-on portrayal of Tommy Lee in The Dirt,  comedian Pete Davidson’s BFF, or Megan Fox’s new beau, Machine Gun Kelly, born Colson Baker, has left footprints across the entertainment industry.  Hot off a summer full of home-recorded covers and his first MTV Video Music Award, MGK takes another step in a new direction with his fifth studio album, Tickets to My Downfall (Bad Boy/Interscope), wearing his heart on his sleeve for 13 tracks (and 2 interludes) of pop-punk magic. Most fittingly, the new release was executively produced by Blink 182’s Travis Barker, who Baker first collaborated with last summer on  “I Think I’m Okay,”  along with Brit bud Yungblud.  It’s no surprise the album sounds as if it could have been born during the early-2000’s pop-punk heyday.  Though TTMD  is a change of pace from MGK’s typical style, it does not fully abandon his roots, highlighting a multitude of hip-hop guests and beats, party songs, and pop anthems. In fact, he has consistently cited various rock acts as influences, so it was only a matter of time until he fully submerged himself in the genre.

Originally planned for a drop earlier this year, the album schedule was derailed, like most things, by COVID-19. However, the timing was a blessing in disguise; as lockdown anxiety, socio-political tension, and general stress have skyrocketed, many have searched for something to take the edge off. Tickets to My Downfall may just be the remedy, serving up good-mood food in the form of uplifting melodies, bittersweet love songs, and full-throttle drums.

Leading up to the September 25th debut, TTMD was first teased back in January with clips that would eventually become  the addictive and upbeat single,  “Bloody Valentine.” Since its official release in May,  the song has been greeted with unparalleled excitement and positive feedback on the punky transformation, accruing over 56 million Spotify streams and 40 million YouTube views.

“Title Track” aptly kickstarts the record with an angsty attitude, immediately invoking deep nostalgia for the peak of Warped Tour days. The record moves swiftly into the bouncy “Kiss Kiss” and emotive “Drunk Face,” prime examples of the aforementioned pop/party anthems. “Forget Me Too,” MGK’s collaboration with Halsey,  though bubbly, is simultaneously dark, as it deals with past relationship turbulence represented by a high-adrenaline call-and-response between the two artists. Channeling a mellower mood, “All I Know,” featuring Trippie Redd, veers in a more hip-hop direction, while  “Lonely” waltzes along, unveiling a softer, more candid side of the LP. The high-octane energy surges once more on “WWIII,” which parallels the intense lyrics, “Make it look good while you’re lying to me/ Goddammit, I’m trying to find inner peace/ But it’s World War 3.”  The album takes a break with the first interlude, “Kevin and Barracuda.” An endearing exchange between Kells and Pete Davidson joking about preferred alien names is the perfect introduction to  “Concert for Aliens,” a pump-up jam with all the favorite pop-punk ingredients from nasally-yet-smooth vocal stylings, hyperactive tempos, to frantic drum fills.

Teaming up with blackbear on the infectious “My Ex’s Best Friend,” the pair meld genres into a mega-catchy track that surged to nearly 60 million listens in less than two months, standing as the earworm of the album. 

The next song, “Jawbreaker,”  is not just a clever title, but a saccharine song with plenty of candy metaphors about fleeting romance.“Nothing Inside” brings back the hip-hop flavor through guest Iann Dior before the final interlude “Banyan Tree,” a recording of a heart-to-heart with Fox. Sticking with the sincere tone, the album closer, “Play This When I’m Gone,” is a bit of a tear-jerker. The minimal instrumentation allows MGK to leave his feelings exposed, crooning, “I’m fightin’ with myself and my sobriety every night/ And last time I couldn’t barely open up my eyes, I apologize.”

Machine Gun Kelly will be performing Tickets to My Downfall in its entirety on October 1st, for a special live steam show at The Roxy in Los Angeles. Then, on the 8th, he will rock The Roxy again, playing, 2019 release, Hotel Diablo, in full. Tickets for both events are available at https://www.MGK.NoCapShows.com!

Buy Tickets to My Downfall here: https://smarturl.it/TTMDmgk

8 / 10

MEIJIN BRUTOMESSO