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Machine Gun Kelly - mainstream sellout Music Album Reviews

Machine Gun Kelly - mainstream sellout Music Album Reviews
The enfant terrible of the pop-rock revival wades deeper into the genre, coming back with even less than before. 

It’s been four years since A$AP Ferg declared Lil Uzi Vert “the new Blink-182,” and three since Blink ditched their guitars for synths. But the one-time rapper Machine Gun Kelly, who won “Favorite Rock Artist” at last year’s American Music Awards, sees himself as a savior of pop-punk in its traditional sense: “It needed a face again,” he told Spin. If 2020’s Tickets to My Downfall was a love letter to his mall-punk predecessors, mainstream sellout is a bitter kiss-off, too busy defending himself against the genre’s gatekeepers to bother with the hooks and heartbreak that made his previous effort so surprisingly slick.

Machine Gun Kelly, born Colson Baker, is wading into a far more crowded pool than the one he left in 2020. He tapped Travis Barker to produce Downfall before the Blink-182 drummer became a professional studded-belt whisperer, adding a jagged edge to music from disaffected Hype House e-boys. Situated among his fellow Barker-ians, most of whom were in short pants when Blink first broke up in 2005, it’s understandable why the 31-year-old might feel a sense of ownership over the Zoomer-led Hot Topic revival. Barker joins MGK again on mainstream sellout, but this time, their pairing feels less inspired and more paranoid. These songs feel cut-and-pasted together from a grab bag of adolescent clichés and recycled three-chord solos; the eyeliner and lip ring seem even more like a costume when Baker opens the record with an impassioned “Why is it so hard to live?”

MGK and Barker aren’t exactly known for subtlety, but their latest collaboration is painfully prosaic to the point of meaninglessness. mainstream sellout never bothers to show you how twisted and broken Machine Gun Kelly is when it could just tell you: “I’m damaged,” he whines on “5150.” “make up sex,” featuring blackbear, is somehow more hollow than their collaboration on Tickets to My Downfall, mixing crass sexual references with such lyrics as, “I love chaos/I love toxic/I love wreckage/I love falling.” MGK leans into the worst tendencies of his Victory Records influences, blaming his rampant narcissism and misogyny on his exes and his vices.

Sure, there are suggestions of deeper traumas—late fathers, broken homes, forbidden love—but most of the album is cartoonishly rendered via graveyard walks and vague references to mental illness. “born with horns” and “god save me” feel thin to the point of approaching parody, like “Emo Kid” without a shred of irony. “emo girl,” a duet with fellow pop-punk revivalist Willow Smith, feels both too serious to laugh at itself and too absurd to take seriously. It does little to transcend its tropes and despite Smith’s admirably yelpy delivery, it still lands like a TikTok-ready meme. And while Baker’s vocal tics—“ums” and “yeahs” thrown in for emphasis—are catchy in spite of themselves, as a guitarist, he can barely bother with an original melody. “maybe” includes the requisite “Misery Business” interpolation and a metalcore verse from Bring Me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes for good measure. The distorted riff on “papercuts” sounds suspiciously like Green Day, but perhaps without the draw of controversy, Machine Gun Kelly didn’t feel the need to give them the same credit.

When he’s not threatening self-harm or screaming “fuck your feelings,” Machine Gun Kelly uses mainstream sellout to settle scores: “I hear too many interviews/From these artists in the news/Speaking on my name,” he roars on “WW4,” a followup to his previous record’s breakup anthem “WW3.” If Tickets to My Downfall was built from the restless pitch of the American Pie soundtracks, this record is closer to emo’s brooding, fame-obsessed LiveJournal era. Almost two decades since Panic! At the Disco sang, “Well we’re just a wet dream for the webzine,” and Fall Out Boy declared, “This ain’t a scene, it’s a goddamn arms race,” MGK is retreading long-dormant Myspace subculture wars without the wit or self-awareness to pull it off. Somehow, even the last-picked-in-gym-class losers of The Academy Is… seemed menacing when they told haters to “take a long walk off of the shortest pier”; the best MGK can do is count his toes (he’s got all 10!) and threaten to “stomp the shit out of you.”

When MGK drops the battle for authenticity, he’s still good for a patented mix of partying and pouting. He loosens his white-knuckled grip on his six-string eventually, and his hip-hop past and pop-punk pivot go down easy in a post-Juice WRLD landscape. Baker’s millionaire misery feels like a natural fit on “die in california,” singing about hating his house in the Hills while Gunna warns about “demons on my shoulder.” When the light hits just right, Machine Gun Kelly feels like the inevitable figurehead of “bop-punk”: drum machines and drop-D tunings bonded by shared desperation.

Machine Gun Kelly recently told Billboard he feels like “the kid who was just outcasted from birth.” That chip on his shoulder has only grown with each new album, first as a white rapper beefing with Eminem fighting to prove he had bars, and now as a reinvented rockstar spinning his struggles into power chords. mainstream sellout is too concerned with trying to prove Machine Gun Kelly can be a guitar god to contend with his complicated feelings or innovate on his basic formula in any meaningful way. Tickets to My Downfall was memorable for the way it treated pop-punk like a natural palette for his emotions, but this too often feels like a concept album about rock, a stodgy record that’s too busy using “real instruments” to do anything interesting with them. But then again—what’s more emo than a God complex?

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Machine Gun Kelly - mainstream sellout Music Album Reviews Machine Gun Kelly - mainstream sellout Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Saturday, April 09, 2022 Rating: 5

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