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‘Tickets to My Downfall’ is the Valentine’s Day Album You (Don’t Know) You Need
CREDIT: Interscope
Album of The Day

‘Tickets to My Downfall’ is the Valentine’s Day Album You (Don’t Know) You Need 

Machine Gun Kelly perfects a smooth transition from emo rap to romantic pop punk

Genre transition is no easy feat. Done properly, it would open up a whole sonic vista for the artist to explore, ensuring a longer and more varied career in the future. Done poorly, it would be difficult for the artist to return to their roots due to the stigma of being ‘opportunistic’. The key to smooth genre transition is organic execution. The likes of Taylor Swift (from country to pop) and Tori Kelly (from pop to gospel) have proven that such transition is only successful when the execution feels natural and the artist sounds at-home. Adding to that very short list of success story is now Richard Baker or his stage name, Machine Gun Kelly.

‘Tickets to My Downfall’ is Machine Gun Kelly exchanging his MC mic with an electric guitar and emo rap with angsty, hooky riffs. The whole album is an in-your-face expression of angst, anxiety, heartbreak, quarter-life crisis, and how maturity is considered ‘overrated’. He kicks off the album by (literally) screaming out this album is unlike anything one would expect from him (“title track”), which is then segued to the more-dance-able “kiss kiss” and YOLO-themed “drunk face”. Safe to say that this album is no slow-burner; it would be hard to keep one’s butt on the seat after the third track.

The centerpiece of the album (“bloody valentine” and Halsey-assisted “forget me too”) showcases the more pop side of Machine Gun Kelly. The track “forget me too”, in particular, would definitely make the likes of Blink 182 and Good Charlotte proud as the track successfully celebrates–and keeps alive–the overlooked legacy that is pop punk. The shorter tracks can be confusing for different listeners (“WWIII”, “jawbreaker”) and the interludes (“kevin and barracuda”, “banyan tree”) are less fascinating and more distracting. However, thanks to the unexpected showstoppers in the latter half of the album (blackbear-assisted “my ex’s best friend” and iann dior-assisted “nothing inside”), the good manages to outweigh the not-so-good ones.

The greatest achievement of ‘Tickets to My Downfall’ is the fact of which the whole album is essentially a catalog of love songs delivered strictly in guitar-driven pop punk arrangement. The result is a very layered and indelibly relatable collection of 13 tracks (and 2 interludes) which, fingers-crossed, unveils the second renaissance of the 30-year-old rapper. Regardless of the somber lyricism of its closing track (“play this when I’m gone”), at this point we should stop taking everything at face value. Yes, we will play this album again once the closing track ends. Yes, we hope Machine Gun Kelly keeps making records like this, if not more spectacular.

+ ‘Tickets to My Downfall’ is not only a delightful career risk made by Machine Gun Kelly, but also a successful comeback for the once-fading pop punk genre
– The interludes and shorter tracks make the whole listening experience a bit rocky.

“drunk face”, “forget me too” (feat. Halsey), “my ex’s best friend” (feat. blackbear)


Felix Martua is a writer, editor, traveler, curator, and cataloger for music, entertainment, and all things pop culture. He can be reached at [email protected]

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