‘Mainstream Sellout’ review: Machine Gun Kelly delivers a solid pop-punk album

Machine Gun Kelly

Former mediocre rapper Machine Gun Kelly hit the sweet spot when he shifted to pop-punk and released Tickets To My Downfall, an album that not only initiated the revival of pop-punk but also elevated Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) to rock star status.

Now back with Mainstream Sellout, which follows the tried-and-true formula of Tickets To My Downfall, MGK is driving some music reviewers to fulminant objections with his new album, which is, on the one hand, a Trudeau salute to his naysayers, and on the other hand Colson Baker, aka MGK, exorcising his personal demons.

Encompassing a whopping 16-tracks, Mainstream Sellout begins with “born with horns,” which opens on a really cool drum shuffle performed by Travis Barker, who also co-produced the just-released album, along with the previous one. “born with horns” sees MGK blending elements of hip-hop with rousing pop-punk.

Entry points include “god save me,” riding a tight, rumbling rhythm full of the tasty energy of Fall Out Boy prior to their descent into the abyss of Ramada Inn lounge music-flavored pop-punk. On “god save me,” punchy guitars and MGK’s angst-filled, rasping vocals push the tune along with oomph.

“maybe,” featuring Bring Me The Horizon, starts on swashbuckling guitars and then drops to lighter coloration, followed by ramping up to full-fledged pop-punk textures. Barker’s drumming is stellar, while the gang-like vocals give the lyrics heft.

“drug dealer” with Lil Wayne isn’t half bad, but listening to Lil Wayne’s quasi-rapping attempt at punk-pop is excruciating. Whereas the title track features wall-of-sound thick guitars and beaucoup muscle. Another scrummy track, “make up sex,” featuring blackbear, pumps out oodles of pop savors merged with pop-punk-lite.

“emo girl,” perhaps the best track on the album, highlights the voice of WILLOW, whose vocals deliver delicious tones of emo-girl snarl, especially when she lets her voice loose on the chorus. “5150,” a reference to California’s code for a mentally disturbed person, rolls out on thrumming guitars riding a propelling rhythm. MGK’s vocals are perfect, rife with agitation and lusciously anxious textures.

More punk than pop-punk, “WW4” travels on blazing, chugging guitars, and swift percussion. Pulsating with dark guitars and ominous energy, “sid & nancy” pushes out beefy guitars as well as risk-laced vocal harmonies. There’s a brutal core to this track, imbuing it with dirge-like essence.


Mainstream Sellout offers potent pop-punk, dripping with reckless dynamism and provocative, cathartic lyrics.

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