Earlier this month, rapper/ actor Machine Gun Kelly stepped out of his comfort zone yet again when he released the pop-punk album “Tickets to My Downfall.” Fans are given a variety of fun tracks to rock out to, complete with a “bloody valentine” acoustic version and a cover of Paramour’s “Misery Business.”
Kelly has teased the 21 track compilation for the past few months. He has slowly been releasing songs from it, such as “bloody valentine” and “my ex’s best friend,” to get his audience ready for this genre jump. I can’t attest to Kelly’s previous work as a rapper, however, Kelly is entering the pop-punk sector as an angsty force to be reckoned with.
The transition into the new genre is coming with the help of the rock drummer Travis Barker, who played percussion and produced the entire album. Barker’s influence can be heard on the tracks “kiss kiss” and “concerts for aliens,” as the songs echo a very Blink-182 like sound.
Barker was not the only famous musician to make an appearance. Halsey, Trippie Redd, Blackbear, Iann Dior, YUNGBLOOD, and Bert McCracken all are featured on tracks. Trippie Redd’s “all I know” is one of the more pop songs on the list, while YUNGBLOOD and McCracken’s “body bag” is along the choppy punk strain.
“Tickets to my Downfall” at the surface may appear to just be a rant about Kelly’s romantic history, but as you dive deeper you can hear the love, pain, and depth embedded into each track. Kelly sings about how alone he feels in his rock ballad “lonely” after his father said “goodbye way to soon.” The song explores the complicated inner grapplings of losing a loved one but isn’t a traditional slow, melancholic number that is usually accompanies songs about death.
What makes this song unique, and is a feature Kelly utilized throughout his whole album, are the soundbites of people’s conversations. “Lonely” ends with an old recording of Kelly’s father talking about the day Kelly was born and how the doctors didn’t think he was going to make it. Not only does this element break up the flow of song after song but it allows the audience to connect with Kelly. Snippets like these offer a rare and raw visual into Kelly’s personal life.
He provides two stand-alone interludes throughout the 53-minute album: “kevin and barracuda” and the “banyan tree.” “Kevin and barracuda” is a short conversation between Kelly and his best friend Pete Davidson and the “banyan tree” is Kelly talking to his current girlfriend Megan Fox. While the first interlude is light-hearted and fun, “banyan tree” is a sentimental insight into the early stages of their partnership. Regardless, both bits are sweet and loving in their individual forms because, by including them, it proves how strongly Kelly values each relationship.
The movement of the album is fast-paced since most of the songs come in under three minutes. This stylistic choice elevates the upbeat, rough nature of punk music and keeps the listener consistently engaged. Every song on the album is truly diverse and dynamic.
Overall, the singles released before the album, however, are the best tracks to come off of it. “Concert for aliens” and “bloody valentine” were strong first releases to catch and garner listenership. They are the ones most people will be inclined to be playing on repeat long after the album has lost its shiny new toy appeal.
“Tickets to My Downfall” in its entirety is a beautiful, true-to-its-core, pop-punk masterpiece. Kelly gracefully transitioned genres and the ticket to his downfall might also be the ticket to solidify his status as a rockstar.