Machine Gun Kelly’s Tickets To My Downfall has been a huge guilty pleasure for this critic since its release. The man can barely sing and the lyrics are about as basic as you can get for its genre of pop-punk but the hooks and production sound great. In concept jumping on the visual album trend with this material is not the worst idea in the world. That said given the source material has 0 thematic depth ( by design) it would be a challenge. At the very least this listener is not opposed to hearing the album in full once again. Does the visual element elevate the thin material?
Honestly no. If anything Downfalls High fits the sincere but entirely mercenary attitude towards its lead artist genre pivot on the main album. It ties all the songs on the standard edition together with and an incredibly insubstantial slice of high school melodrama. MGK has roped in most of the collaborators from the album into the visual medium ( Halsey being the notable exception.) he also brings along Sidney Sweeney in the lead female role for a certain level of very vocal fanbase convergence. All of this sounds fine in concept. The thing is that much as the music still sounds great the source materials edge lord diary poetry aesthetic comes across as try hard in the interlinking non-performance segments. Much as Sydney Sweeney might be one of those actresses who can sell a certain audience on just about anything hearing her non ironically deliver the line “If…ing hate aeroplanes” is an early contender for biggest unintentional media related laugh of 2021. Much as the album remains enjoyable as ever this presentation has the air of a faintly embarrassing vanity project. it’s the kind of thing that musicians shovel out when they know they have a potent enough fanbase that will bye almost anything they are selling. That said it’s hard to get too mad at this production as an extension of the existing album. It was released for free on YouTube and Facebook. If MGK and his management decided they were going to make fans pay for such a half baked project this would be an entirely different conversation.
On a certain level Downfalls High is exactly what viewers would expect given the source material. The music’s still delivered effectively. That said this is a textbook example of the idea that just because you have the resources available to make one of these visual albums doesn’t mean your album has the depth that’s necessary to make it’s engaging. that said it released entirely for free mostly to appease fans. It’s hard to get that irritated at the final product beyond the faint embarrassment it might cause some of those involved.