Review: Machine Gun Kelly — Tickets to My Downfall

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Thursday, October 8th, 2020 at 10:13 AM
Review: Machine Gun Kelly — Tickets to My Downfall by Julia Carden

Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) proves his versatility on new album, “Tickets To My Downfall.” The record is a clear departure from his normal style, jumping into the pop-punk realm, and the newly expressed angst and more grounded emotion makes it somewhat relatable. 

While the new album has many early MGK fans questioning his commitment to the genre that made him famous, Kelly was quick to reassure fans he’s not abandoning rap. “I would like to normalize how we think about doing multiple types of music. I didn’t ‘switch genres,’ I’m versatile, and the wall isn’t boxed in," Kelly clarified in an interview with HipHopDX 

The album’s guestlist definitely represents this multi-genre approach, with popular pop-punk artist Blackbear, rappers Trippie Redd and iann dior, and even mainstream pop artist Halsey showing up. Produced in part by blink-182's Travis Barker — who can be found playing the drums on “Forget Me Too” — the record clearly aims for early 2000s pop-punk canon. And considering his earlier collaboration with Barker on the single, “I Think I’m OKAY,” it seems likely the blink-182 mainstay helped MGK find his genre bearings.  

A single released before the album, titled “Bloody Valentine,” verified the pop-punk feel that MGK had earlier teased on social media. Spanning 3:25, the song is fast paced with an upbeat, edgy sound. The depth of feeling and hope toward love that Kelly expresses here heavily contrasts his previous work, especially his album “Hotel Diablo,” where his attitude toward intimate relationships ties directly to betrayal. The artist confronts this contradiction as he sings, “I'm calling you ‘girlfriend,’ what the f***?”  

Undoubtedly, the most heartfelt song on the album is “Play This When I’m Gone,” with its slower pace and quiet instrumentals. At first, the song seems to be addressing a lost love, but MGK actually wrote it for his daughter Casie. He announced the song back in December, via an Instagram post captioned, “wrote her a song so I won’t have any regrets if my time ever comes.” In the track, he sings, “I'm writing you this message just so I can say that I love you.” Throughout the song, Kelly encourages his daughter to stay strong no matter what life throws at her.  

MGK does not sugarcoat the realities of the “cruel world” as he continues to the pre-chorus: “I'm 29, and society's eating me alive / I'm fighting what comes with this notoriety every night / This is the last time I'll ever open up my eyes, I apologize.” 

Throughout the entire 15-track album, Kelly reluctantly confronts the cold reality of becoming a full-on adult. The third track, “Drunk Face,” states, “I'm still young, wasting my youth / I'll grow up next summer.” 

He also alludes to a dangerous lifestyle — one of recklessness, drug use, and violence. The sixth song, “all I know,” clearly acknowledges this, referencing a car accident he admitted to in a tweet in January 2020. Featuring Trippie Redd, the song discusses the fallout of a careless approach to life, expressed in the lines, “My life on the outside's fun to them / But the person on the inside is crumblin'.” 

When the album sold out on his website, Kelly rewarded his fans with a deluxe album which featured six new songs, including a cover of Paramore’s breakthrough emo hit “Misery Business.” 

“Tickets to My Downfall” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart on Oct. 5, the first rock album to earn this spot in over a year. Whether you support MGK’s venture into pop-punk or not, it’s hard to deny that he did a pretty stellar job on this album.

Julia Carden is a staff writer for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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