Album review: Machine Gun Kelly – Mainstream Sellout

MGK continues his pop-punk dalliance and addresses the haters, but it’s unlikely to convince anyone to join the cause…

Album review: Machine Gun Kelly – Mainstream Sellout
Jake Richardson

Leave the scene, you’re ruining it!’ sings Machine Gun Kelly on the title-track to Mainstream Sellout. MGK – real name Colson Baker – knows you probably hate him. He also knows that, ever since he pivoted towards pop-punk with previous album Tickets To My Downfall, swathes of the rock community have seen him as a pariah. On Mainstream Sellout, he’s revelling in his status as rock’s bogeyman. But whereas Tickets To My Downfall was a more self-aware and upbeat pastiche of pop-punk’s golden era, this new album is a moodier, more angst-ridden affair. It’s less fun – something that’s mirrored in the experience of the listener.

Travis Barker’s influence on proceedings is once again plain from the outset, as some classic blink-182 drumming characterises opening track Born With Horns. Maybe, meanwhile, is functional radio rock that works well enough, but even a guest turn from Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes isn’t enough to elevate it to the level of Tickets To My Downfall at its best. The fun-loving sprit of Machine Gun Kelly’s last album is present on much-maligned single Emo Girl, a track that, musically, is simple but effective, yet the daft lyrics (‘I fell in love with an emo girl / All I want is an emo girl’) – whether self-aware or not – are pretty jarring. 5150 is better, a blink-esque pop-punk jam that’s an example of MGK’s rock dalliance at its most effective.

Machine Gun Kelly’s detractors will likely have you believe Mainstream Sellout is terrible. It isn’t, but nor is the fire burning as bright as it once was. There’s some fun to be had here, but ultimately, this is the weakest record of MGK’s rock era so far.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: blink-182, jxdn, MOD SUN

Mainstream Sellout is out now via Bad Boy / Interscope

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