Machine Gun Kelly jumps into the pop-punk scene with his fifth studio record: Tickets To My Downfall, produced by Blink 182’s Travis Barker. While the record is still distinctly MGK’s style, the sound takes a turn away from rap/hip hop, the genre of Machine Gun Kelly’s first four albums.
On the night of the release of his album, Machine Gun Kelly took to his Instagram story to set a rule for his fans when they listen to the album. The rule was simple: listen to the album from track one to track 15 in order.
The record begins with ‘title track’ and feels like an invitation to what follows. The song gives a view of what the whole album is going to be like. The song is all about finding out who your real friends are and who is just there to watch you crash and burn. The album then moves into a party anthem: ‘kiss kiss’. The song is all about not worrying about any of your problems and just having a good time. The record continues with the theme of having fun and avoiding genuinely growing up in ‘drunk face’, a song about being young, immature, and having a good time.
Track four, ‘bloody valentine’, was released as the first single back in May. The song gave fans a taste for the more rock-oriented direction Machine Gun Kelly would be taking on this record.
Tickets To My Downfall then moves to the first collaboration of the album. A song about the fragility of a seemingly toxic relationship: ‘forget me too’ features Halsey, who’s softer voice matches Machine Gun Kelly’s rough vocals. The pair goes back and forth, seeming to blame the other for the faults of a relationship that ended suddenly. From one collaboration to the next, the second feature gives Trippie Redd fans something to look forward to. ‘all i know’ provides a view into living the life of a rapper, something both Machine Gun Kelly and Redd are well versed on. The track shows the listener that even though the experience of partying and making a scene of every event might look fun… most of the time, it can get extremely messy.
The record moves away from the happier themes of parties and girls with ‘lonely’. The somber ballad was written about the death of Machine Gun Kelly’s aunt and father. His aunt, who he lived with for some time, was his biggest supporter. The song touches on how Machine Gun Kelly wishes he had had more time to make things right with his father. This song especially stands out on the record due to it clearly being the most emotional and the most personal track of the album.
The record picks back up on ‘WWIII’, which is a 58-second long middle finger to anyone who tries to judge Machine Gun Kelly without knowing what he has been through or is going through. The song is a reminder to not pick apart someone’s choices, especially when you do not know them personally.
The record takes a small break with an interlude titled ‘Kevin and Barracuda’. The interlude is a recorded phone call with Pete Davidson, where he jokes about aliens with Machine Gun Kelly. Tickets To My Downfall gets back into the music with the second single released in August: ‘concert for aliens’. The track is about being self-aware, Machine Gun Kelly fully knows he’s immature, and he keeps making the same mistakes. He recognizes while he might not be making anyone proud of his personal choices, at least he has a successful career.
The next track — also a single, released only two days after ‘concert for aliens’ — is ‘my ex’s best friend’ featuring blackbear and covers falling in love with someone close to your ex. This person already knows all your flaws and the mistakes you have made. The song is about falling in love when you know you are not supposed to.
‘jawbreaker’ continues the strong themes of having fun, being young, and being in love that has been maintained throughout the album. Starts with a single spoken line: “this one is called…” before launching into the song, a move that feels very pop-punk.
The last collaboration of Tickets To My Downfall was made with Iann Dior, the track is titled ‘nothing inside’. The song is an anti-love song about giving someone all of your heart then that person taking you for granted. Left, without your heart, you start to feel empty.
‘banyan tree’ begins with Machine Gun Kelly’s girlfriend, Megan Fox, asking if he remembers anything he does with her since he is high and/or drunk so frequently. He insists that, yes, he does remember every memory he has made with her and deeply values those memories. ‘banyan tree’ is a love song that aims to prove he really remembers the memories he has made with Fox.
The final track, ‘play this when i’m gone’, is a brilliant send-off for the whole record. The song is a note to everyone Machine Gun Kelly loves that after he is gone, he will miss them, and it is alright. As one of the more somber tracks on Tickets To My Downfall, this song is the perfect ending to the album.
The general sound of the album is nothing absolutely groundbreaking. It is, in short, a modern rap album, that is not to say the record is not good. As a whole, the album is
very sonically cohesive. When listened in order, it feels like a letter from a friend whom you have not seen in a while, a life update. Machine Gun Kelly gave his fans a look into his life; allowed the listener to see what is happening in his brain and why he behaves the way he does. Tickets To My Downfall makes the listener truly feel like they know Machine Gun Kelly, that he is just an ordinary person with emotions even though he is quickly becoming a household name.