Artist: Machine Gun Kelly
Release Date: September 25, 2020
Here we go
Punk is in my veins. Come on, I’m from New Jersey, we have the most punk per capita. It’s true. Tik Tok told me so. Not only did the Tik Tok tell me it, I’ve experienced it. Shout out to Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, shout out to basement shows in New Brunswick, shout out to the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market, shout out to shows at bowling alleys and my friends being billed higher than modern pop punk heroes such as The Front Bottoms.
So to tell you the truth when I heard that Machine Gun Kelly was going to drop a pop punk project I had to laugh a little. I had to think “This skinny mother fucker who tried to pick a fight with Eminem? That dude? That guy is gonna do pop punk? It’s gonna suck. And it’s gonna suck hard.”
My second though was, well what kind of pop punk? Modern pop punk sounds a lot different than the stuff I grew up with, the stuff I fell in love with. The Green Day style, the Fat Lip style, the Jimmy Eat World, the Offspring style, the blink-182 style isn’t what is ruling the game even if those bands still generate wealth and fill up stadiums.
For the most part, I don’t like who rules the game now. The Wonder Years, the Front Bottoms, Modern Baseball, just to name a few. It’s more alt rock, it’s more emo, it’s more folk, it’s everything they grew up with and combined it into one genre. And while we’re all the same age, and we all grew up with the same stuff it just doesn’t resonate with me like I wish that it would. To be honest? I find a lot of fucking annoying and fucking whiny. If I wanted to hear a white twentysomething whine about how he hates his love life and home town, I’d open my own damn mouth. I like a handful of tracks here and there, but mostly you can keep all those bands far away from me.
But I got lucky with Machine Gun Kelly. Tickets to My Downfall ended up being that classic late 90s/early 2000s blink-182 pop punk sound. Largely due to partnering with blink-182’s drummer, and all around good guy, Travis Barker. The pairing does make sense; Travis loves hip hop, and his solo album Give the Drummer Some is a rap record, and MGK loves pop punk so yeah throw them together and see what you get.
What you get is, as stated, some classic sounding stuff even if it does border on probably being blink-182 rejected demo tracks. Which isn’t a bad thing even if it sounds like it might be.
On March 26th, 2020 we got the first taste of the MGK and Travis collab when they dropped their video covering the classic Paramore track Misery Business
I was blown away. But you know what? It’s a cover. He got lucky. Lightning isn’t going to strike twice.
But lightning did strike a second time. May 1st saw the release of the record’s first single, Bloody Valentine Once again, I was instantly hooked. And I kind of hated myself for being hooked. I kept saying to myself that this shouldn’t be this good, it can’t be this good. I’m just bored, we’ve been at home for too long, my mind is going to mush. But I kept finding myself drawn to this track. I kept throwing it into my queue when I’d ride my bike or take a walk or I’d just be sitting in my room and have the urge to put it on.
It really was the real pop punk deal.
The album, so far, has released two other singles. August 5th saw the release of Concert for Aliens. And two days later, on August 7th, we saw the release of a collaboration track with blackbear, My Ex’s Best Friend
The album was released on September 25th, 2020, with a deluxe version being released just a few days later on September 29th, 2020. Besides the digital standard and digital deluxe version, there is a Target exclusive version which includes the audio from a handful of tracks MGK uploaded to YouTube in the early days of California’s stay at home order.
Travis Barker isn’t the only collaboration on this album; As previously mentioned, blackbear is featured on My Ex’s Best Friend, Trippie Redd is on All I Know, Pete Davidson is on the interlude track Kevin and Barracuda, additionally, MGK’s current girlfriend Megan Fox is featured on the album’s other interlude Banyan Tree, and Ian Dior is on the track Nothing Inside.
The albums two strongest tracks, in my opinion, are both tracks that include features.
body bag, which is a deluxe edition track, features Yungblud and Bert McCracken of The Used. The song is heavily derivative of Fall Out Boy’s Dance, Dance. But the song is a party. That’s the best and most accurate way to describe this song. If you wanted to wrap the themes and sounds and to answer the question of “What is Tickets to My Downfall?”, this is the song I’d point you to. Its one of those moments where you have to shout into the universe, “WHY IS THIS A BONUS TRACK?!” The only thing I can think of is simply it does not fit within the narrative of the record. I’ve tried to place it in the standard track list and I’ve never been comfortable with it anywhere except where it sits.
And finally, forget me too which features u/impeccabletim and u/carliescion ‘s shared bff, and future hardcore crust vegan hippie grindcore alt manic pixie girl, Ashley Frangipane. Or rather, Halsey. I’m going to be one hundred and twenty five percent honest here, I had insanely high hopes for this song. After Halsey was on 11 Minutes, after Nightmare, after Experiment on Me, her Bring Me the Horizon feature, after 3am, we knew what pop punk Halsey was capable of. She accidentally set the bar very high. And you know what? She cleared it. MGK cleared it. The first time I heard it I got chills from Halsey’s verse, in my unqualified opinion it’s the epitome of pop punk. It hits you hard and fast and exactly how you want it to hit you.
After some praise I’ll rip the album a tiny bit, but only a tiny bit, if you aren’t a fan of pop punk or rather you’re not a blink-182 fan you’re most likely not going to like this record. As I stated earlier so many of these tracks just sound like fully realized blink demoes. I noticed it right away when Bloody Valentine was released. If you’ve listened to blink, especially songs like What’s My Age Again, All The Small Things, that sort of blink era, there’s a particular whoosh sound that gets mixed into their songs, usually after Travis does a fun drum fill, yeah it’s on this record too.
The lyrics, especially on a song like kiss kiss, can get mind-numbingly annoying because they just repeat and repeat and repeat. On the plus side, there’s no immature lyrics on this record like blink has been famous for. The album has its trying to be funny moments, as heard in the interludes, but it doesn’t make you roll your eyes so hard they fall out of your head like some of the joke blink tracks.
Random Thoughts about random tracks
I’m so mad at this song. It’s too short. Yeah, okay, it’s punk, but not the style of hard and fast punk MGK was going for overall. I really really enjoy this song and I wish we got another minute of it. It goes hard. I can’t wait for MGK to be able to tour cause I’m gonna body slam a motherfucker to this song and it is gonna be so great.
Probably my third favorite song on the record. It’s catchy as hell. It is constantly stuck in my head and I’ll catch myself singing bits and pieces of it even when it’s been a handful of days since I last spun the record. I just fucking vibe with this track.
I love the little spoken intro right into the track, the simple guitar and voice intro and then it just builds and builds and it’s fun a little track. Another track that I think is going to be really great when he can play this record live. I can already imagine a bunch of kids in backward hats and flannel jumping and pointing when the chorus hits. It’s so clear in my mind. And that’s why I think a lot of this record works, I can imagine how the live show is going to play out so so clearly. I’ve seen it and experienced it hundred times but it is always going to be new and fun.
Top 3 tracks you should listen to:
- forget me too
- body bag
- drunk face
I may be a Taylor Swift fan but I didn’t wear my clown make up for her this year
okay maybe sometimes I do think there is a third album to go along with folklore and evermore. I ended up wearing my makeup for MGK. I didn’t believe that this album would be any good. And it’s not. It’s fucking great. At best, I thought we were going to get like 3 or so tracks that I’d want to listen to, but he gave an entire album worth listening to, over and over and over again. I haven’t personally ranked my favorite records of 2020 but I can firmly say this is in my Top 5. If you told me January 1st 2020 that Machine Gun Kelly would be releasing one of my favorite records of the year I’d think you’re fucking with me, actually that is pretty much the entire story of 2020 isn’t it?
MGK, and Travis Barker, didn’t reinvent the wheel and I think that was the best course of action for them. They gave us a blast from the past that manages to incorporate some modern flair. The wheel was dressed up in shiny new chrome, and that’s all they had to do.
I love riding my bike to this record. I love being in my room or the basement and jamming to this record. I love sitting in my car and shouting along to drunk face, kiss kiss and forget me too. Is this album destined to become a classic? No. I would never think that, it can’t touch what came before it in the genre. But it was an album we desperately needed in 2020. It brought some light to an insanely dark time. My hellish 2020 was a much better experience thanks to this record, and that’s not something I’d ever think I’d say about Machine Gun Kelly. I don’t know if he has it in him to do another record like this but if he tried the genre again I’ll absolutely give it a spin or two.
And one final final thing
January 15th, MGK has some sort of visual media project called Downfalls High coming out; Here’s the first teaser for it
You’ll be able to view it Friday at the Downfalls High website
Okay cool, stay rad no matter what kind of punk u r.
Do you think this recent pop rock/pop punk trend is going to expand into something larger or is it just a small passing trend that will be gone by the end of 2021? Do you prefer this pop rock trend to the current disco trend?
Focusing solely on Machine Gun Kelly; when this album was hinted at/announced what were your thoughts on it? Did you believe in him? Did you think it was some weird joke?
One of my gripes with this sub and the current pop rock output is people seem to only want to go to bat for their pop girls going rock while leaving the women already in the genre in the dust, y’all really sleeping on Lzzy Hale of Halestorm and her vocals but that’s another discussion for another day; so what current rock gals are you already loving? (I’ll say current as any artist/band from the last 5 years.)
BONUS ROUND! And as a contrast to my slightly aggressive above question, what completely out of left field artist, I’m not talking Taylor Swift or the like, do you want to see explore the rock genre if this trend does continue?
If you dug this record here’s a couple of other records that came out in 2020 that I think you might also enjoy, all links are for Spotify:
Every Time I Die – A Colossal Wreck//Desperate Pleasures – okay this is a two song EP, and it’s more of an “Expert Level” recommendation but whatever
If you want some individual tracks to check out from those records don’t be afraid to ask, but personally I think they’re all best if consumed as one whole album!
For real though if you’ve made it this far without just scrolling, thanks for reading!
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