ALBUM REVIEW: Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall

Release Date: September 25th 2020
Label: Interscope Records


After a decade of sitting in the world of hip-hop, Machine Gun Kelly looks towards pop-punk to stretch his artistic muscles.

With ‘Tickets To My Downfall’, Kelly enlists Travis Barker (Blink-182) to help navigate unchartered territory. Whilst Kelly may have flirted with the style in some of his previous work, on ‘Tickets To My Downfall’ he dives headfirst into the genre with surprising results.

Acoustic finger-picking ushers in opener ‘Title Track’, bridging the gap between the hip-hop heavy previous releases by Kelly delivering rapid fire verses before unleashing a half time chorus. Launching into breathless pop-punk, the song twists and turns around the hallmarks of the genre to maintain an energetic pace whilst Kelly imbues some honest lyricism that ensures that the track avoids becoming a pastiche of the genre.

Following up with ‘Kiss Kiss’ and ‘Drunk Face’, power pop choruses, spinning guitar solos, gang vocals, and snappy drum beats continue to add nuances and deviations to the third wave of pop-punk that permeates throughout. As the album reaches its lead single ‘Bloody Valentine’, the strength of Kelly‘s frank and solid song writing as well as Barker‘s production talents are fully cemented.

Following on from the stadium ready coda of its predecessor, ‘Forget Me Too’ sits on a foundation of skittish energy and an equally large chorus before Halsey delivers a scene stealing verse and chorus. It’s a fitting track and guest appearance on a record that seeks to move away from the established Machine Gun Kelly sound.

Unsurprisingly, for a record that aims to continue to blur genre lines even more so, ‘All I Know’ sees Trippie Redd adding an injection of trap alongside the melodic and reserved guitars. Continuing to embrace a restraint in composition, ‘Lonely’ shows a more exposed side to Kelly whereas ‘My Ex’s Best Friend’ sees further expansion on the current blend of pop-punk and rap, with an appearance from Blackbear alongside a bouncing chorus.

Closing with ‘Play This When I’m Gone’, confessional lyrics and a reserved acoustic guitar conclude a bold stylistic leap with sincerity and vulnerability.

With ‘Tickets To My Downfall’, Machine Gun Kelly manages to move away from one genre to the other seamlessly. With a solid track list and a fresh yet familiar take on the pop-punk, ‘Tickets To My Downfall’ is arguably the most consistent record of Kelly‘s career.