I am simply a casual fan of Machine Gun Kelly’s (who I will refer to as his nickname, MGK), but after hearing the very first single for his latest album, one centering on more of a pop-punk feel, I knew that I had to keep up with this release, and I was not disappointed. On Sept. 25, “Tickets to My Downfall” was released, a new feat for MGK, who typically raps. I had listened to quite a few tracks on his previous album, “Hotel Diablo,” which were really impactful in its lyrics, but it was this new album where his sound really improved, helped especially by Travis Barker’s drumming and MGK’s sick guitar-playing.
The twist for his fifth album came from a collaboration between himself, Barker and singer Yungblud on “I Think I’m Okay,” a song much more similar to “Tickets to My Downfall” than “Hotel Diablo.” MGK later worked with Barker in the studio, which inspired him to pursue an album completely based in a pop-punk feel, this meeting leading to “bloody valentine,” one of the singles from the album.
The album opens with “title track,” a powerful piece that begins slow and steady, but quickly explodes into a loud, reckless speech. It is the perfect opener to prepare the listener for an album that is still MGK, but him exploring new genres. What follows is “kiss kiss,” a lighter piece, at least in rhythm, that can make anyone dance. The short lengths of the songs, almost all being between two or three minutes as opposed to the typical three and a half, really aides in the adrenaline rush of the instruments.
As you begin “drunk face,” you realize that the lyrics are just as deep, painful and detailed as any other MGK song, but the pop-punk atmosphere emphasizes the emotions. One of my favorite songs, “bloody valentine,” is paired with a perfectly directed music video, bold in its color scheme and aesthetic. Once you learn the words, you won’t be able to stop yourself from singing along.
My absolute favorite song, though, is definitely “forget me too,” and it is definitely because it features Halsey (please refer to my nearly half a dozen other Halsey articles I’ve published through The Collegian). It reminds me of being in middle school again, jumping around my room and screaming into a hairbrush. Her vocals are so clear, their tones mixing flawlessly.
“All I know” is the perfect segue from the exhilarating “forget me too” to the heart wrenching “lonely.” With honest lyrics interlaced with stories, “lonely” really makes the listener sit back and pause for a moment. “WWIII” is under a minute long, but rips you from the sadder tones of “lonely,” reminding you that you are here for the adrenaline of a pop-punk album. “kevin and barracuda – interlude” is absolutely hilarious to introduce another single, “concert for aliens.” Blackbear joins MGK on the next track, “my ex’s best friend,” which is also paired with a music video. I cannot get the lyrics for this piece out of my head, the writing running with the instruments effortlessly.
“Jawbreaker” throws back to the classic tone of the album, but it is “nothing inside” that is as sad as “lonely,” but tries to remain upbeat in the instrumentals. The sad aesthetic only continues as the album closes; I cried the entire way through “banyan tree – interlude” as well as “play this when i’m gone.” It’s an ode to all that is in MGK’s head, the scary and the sad. The second I heard it, I knew he wrote this final piece for his daughter. It’s a song that chases chills down your spine, that will make you sit down on your floor and reassess everything about yourself. The guitar is softer, the pop-punk aesthetic leaving for just a moment so that MGK can bear his heart. It’s stripped, gentle and so terribly honest. “play this when i’m gone” is for sure another one of my favorites.
Fans have described this album as a new take on the pop-punk genre as well as an effort to show an artist who doesn’t want to limit himself. Yes, MGK began as a rapper, but that isn’t stopping him from crossing genres and networking with other musicians to show their talents. It’s a successful trip into new territory that MGK had dipped his toes into throughout his music career, but had finally dove into headfirst.
“Tickets to My Downfall” is available on all music platforms.