This article was originally published in The Sting on October 2, 2020.
I’m not the biggest fan of Rap. Sure, I like some of the old school artists like Biggie and Tupac, and I’m a big fan of Tyler, the Creator, but beyond that it was never really my thing. So it stands to reason that before late last year, while I had heard of Machine Gun Kelly, I had never really listened to much of his music.
That all changed when I heard the song “I Think I’m Okay,” the last track on MGK’s fourth studio album Hotel Diablo. For the song, MGK went in a more rock-oriented direction, teaming up with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. I wasn’t the only one who liked it: the song went to number eight on the year-end Billboard Hot Rock charts. In December, MGK announced that he would be releasing a rock album in 2020.
Last week, MGK made good on that announcement with the release of his fifth studio album “Tickets to My Downfall,” which has easily become the best new pop-punk album I’ve heard in some time. Travis Barker plays drums (along with a host of other instruments) throughout and produced the record, showcasing his talents as both musician and producer.
The album pays homage to pop-punk greats like My Chemical Romance or Blink-182 (which may be unsurprising given Barker’s presence) with a more modern sound that is closer to some of the pop-punk bands of today. All the while, the sound holds its own, and MGK provides an outstanding record that has easily become one of my favorite albums of this year.
The LP comes in at 15 songs running about 36 minutes. Packed with fast paced, three or four chord progressions and simple but catchy guitar licks, MGK has proclaimed himself to be just as good as musicians from the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s.
I enjoyed most of the songs, but felt that most of the songs with a collaboration could’ve done without the collaboration part. Halsey’s appearance on “forget me too” made me press skip, but I could live with the other guest appearances.
My old go-to’s like Green Day, Blink-182 (now with Matt Skiba on guitar) and Sum 41 haven’t been putting out great music as of late, but this record gives me hope that there is still integrity in the pop-punk genre.
Who’s to say if MGK will stick with this genre shift, but if he does, it would be well welcome.
Tony Sheaffer is managing editor for The Sting and writes Friday Groove, a weekly music column.